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. 


5 responses to “Oh, Tannenbaum by Yvonne Zipter”

  1. Ed Hack Avatar
    Ed Hack

    every silvery sliver of fake foliage…..

    What a fine, slippery embodiment of the drama, the facade, the poem enacts. Touching and awful.

    1. yvonnezipter Avatar

      Thanks, Ed. I don’t think I’ve ever thought so deeply about that aluminum tree!

  2. richardsund Avatar

    How interesting to contrast the silver tree and the homelife within. I am old enough to have had an aluminum tree, real trees, and fake green ones. We had that little colored wheel that made the aluminum tree change colors.we were young and loved it. An RN that I worked with in the ER collected aluminum trees and the colored wheels ! She put them up all over her home. Thank you for a beautiful poem.

  3. 2mybox Avatar

    This poem is a perfect comment on artifice. I can picture both the tree and the grandmother. A good poem for Christmas Eve.

  4. Dave Williams Avatar

    This is interesting from the perspective of “putting women on a pedestal.” The image of the room with the antiseptic tree is nearly holographic. It’s frighteningly Impressive in an impressionistic manner.

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