Oh, Tannenbaum by Yvonne Zipter

Oh, Tannenbaum

It was about some notion of elegance,
yes, but mostly about control,
every curl of metal on the rigid
wire limbs of my grandmother’s
aluminum tree exactly the same,
every branch spaced evenly,
satin balls—red or green only—
at uniform intervals. All the years
of my childhood, that lifeless
facsimile occupied the corner
at Christmas, its sparkle displayed
to all of Brentwood Avenue,
a quartet of picture windows
framing it like art. What a nightmare
it must’ve been for her, Christmases past,
with those delicate glass ornaments,
bell shaped and ball shaped and some
shaped like pinecones—how ever
do you arrange them on boughs
so supple and untidy? Better
the aluminum tree, spare and clean
in the barren space beside the outsized
panes, telling lies about the rest
of the house, the tangled lives within,
and every silvery sliver of fake foliage
reflecting her face, soft with powder.

by Yvonne Zipter

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Editor’s Note
: This poem’s tragic last line invites the reader to wonder what drove the speaker’s grandmother to such desperate control, and why.