Except on Christmas by Anna Reihman

Except on Christmas

Sometimes this is what you are given,
ten minutes alone while the boys laugh under the hose.
You pour a diet soda, read a few paragraphs
as sweat glues paint chips into creases
of the inside of your elbow.
Sometimes this is all you are given
a few minutes to remember Uncle Charles,
how he fought the war, made his fortune
climbed Mayan stairs
and ended his letters
“keep the home fires burning.”
Nana is alone in the farmhouse
without strength to strike a match. Scattered,
we each carry our stick that glows,
holding high the embers like a runway
for the dead.

                – Anna Reihman
                   from Words Dance 11, Spring 2007