Some December reading …

I’m loading a few new works on the Mule today and will add some more later this week. December always seems so hectic, doesn’t it? Perhaps a few moments reading Jean Rodenbough’s poem “Parable” or a few minutes reading some flash fiction or one of the other new poems on the Mule will help to slow down that pace a bit.

As a kid, the days from the Thanksgiving break through to the first week of the new year represented the best of the best. The brightest smiles, the happiest moments — when Daddy would tell long memories and we sat in the living room with the fireplace crackling (it really does crackle, doesn’t it? it’s not poetic license) and Mom would turn out all the lights except the Christmas tree’s big bold bulbs – no the little sorry ass twinklies we have now. This month, December, carries with it long streams of consciousness, random words and phrases float by in a mist of vapors and will-o-whisp lights. I see my parents out of the corner of my eye, a brief shadow of the way it used to be when holidays really were holidays. I catch a hiccup of anticipation from my grandsons but it’s gone in a flash. For over a decade, in the 60s, we left Arkansas for Ohio on the 26th of December, and returned after New Year’s. We’d visit Avon-scented elderly aunts, loud-voiced relatives with strange foods and cloying fierce hugs, Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Betty and the cousins — we’d compare presents and play with our James Bond spy gear — and grow close and comfortable for a week, a fast brief moment of family – as elusive as the spirits it recalled.

This December, it’s all in my head. “The boar’s head as I understand is the bravest dish in all the land,” my dead Uncle Jimmy whispers in my right ear, “All you men in iron suits, come and play dominoes,” he tells me that’s the Latin translation of the song about to be heard. And my Dad laughs quietly, under his breath when I sing the new lines — bold and confident, standing in the church next to him.

Where’s your holiday? Is it in a tree? A belief system? Family? Mine’s in words and photos of traditions now replaced with urgent needs, complicated wants, and forgotten reason. My thoughts swirl around my head, circling like Saturn rings of memory and I reach for them but they scoot past me into the night.

-Val MacEwan

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