Porcelain Manger


Last time I stuffed a turkey
you were sucking a burnt pinky
confiding secrets about Uncle Carl
and reminding me 
of the importance 
of a well-bleached sink.

instead of sleeping 
in a Red River cemetery
you were here
adding chicken broth
and just a pinch more sage

would you forgive me
this broken home
our broken vows
my broken-

would you square your shoulders
and set to scrubbing corners 
proving that even the darkest stains
will bow to a little 
elbow grease?


There’s an ornament 
on our noble fir 
that’s older than me
or so I tell the kids.
I’ve no idea how it survived 
across three generations
so prone to making messes.

I know these pine needles
will be wedged til Easter
beneath baseboards
plastic hasn’t the honesty 
to resurrect silent nights 
spent stringing cranberries 
and popcorn.

Do you recall
how every so often
the needle would prick my finger?
You’d shrug 
and remind me that crimson 
is a Christmas color.

I understand now
why you didn’t say it
with a smile.

© 2019 Tabitha Isbell

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