Holiday cards (2)

A revision of a previous piece. 

The cards begin to arrive:
photos of children
in red and green sweaters
standing before trees
bedecked with handmade
ornaments.

Joy and peace
from two little boys in argyle
and a plump princess,
all with their mother’s nose,
posed by the fireplace grate,
visions of soccer practice
and the school play and
spelling bees dancing
in their futures.

And here’s a fresh card
framed in colored bulbs,
the laughing girl on daddy’s lap
about to escape, about to run
through the tissue paper and
ribbons of a Christmas morning – 
mom’s belly nearly ready
to divulge baby #2.

From New England,
an envelope bearing
the biggest tree of all,
its ornaments passed down
through generations of women;
and the pale-looking boy
clasps his little sister,
protecting her from scary
reindeer or wicked elves.

His sister smiles sweet
like her grandmother,
and I can see the two of them,
bent over a bowl of flour
and sugar. She is learning
to bake cookies; she is
counting teaspoons and
forming equilateral
triangles.

Next an oversize collage,
a year in review: photos
of chocolate cakes, candles
ripe for wishing, a ballerina
spinning, a heartbreakingly
beautiful little man clambering
into the dishwasher.

Someday, the ballerina
will march on Washington
and her brother will
find the cure for cancer;
it’s in their genes,
DNA so obvious,
that you – a stranger – could
cut the photos into pieces
and match them
to their parents.

One
blonde,
blue-eyed angel
begs me with her eyes:
hold me close
and read me stories
of dragons and dwarves
and Misty Mountains.

Teach me to play the piano;
show me beauty and love
and kindness.

And I can do nothing
but nod and cry.

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