Janet I. Buck – Rooms of Symbols

Janet I. Buck

Rooms of Symbols

It’s time to cut a tree,
trim its less appealing side,
shake off all the broken blades,
stand it in the living room,
even though it wants to lean.
Lay the bulbs on branches
seeming staunch enough
to weather weight of memory.
Ornaments of dusty glitter
clamoring to build
a sunrise of the cold.
Autumn mulch is shrinking
under layers of frost,
the earth a pool
of sludge and whiskey
sitting in a dirty glass.
I count on you,
your paper doves with gilded wings
and jade but still unjaded eggs—
like recipes for cookie dough
to decorate the lingering.

I count on you as pendulums
to find the rhythm of the dance.
To sense the good
that still remains between
the sour slats and rinds.
Somewhere else, in Israel,
a fire breaks, according
to the headline news.
20,000 homeless stand
in soup lines waiting
for scraps of rice
and brothy breaths
of volunteers to kiss them
on mosaic cheeks
streaming with their soot and tears.
20,000 homeless stand
in hope of nails and miracles—
to build them temporary shacks
while I am cutting Christmas fudge.

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