Most of its dry needles lost with star
and spheres and angels, the tree we children dragged
the short way to the bonfire, tossed
crushed boxes, giftwrap on the pyre,
handfuls of snow so flames would crackle,
dart up the night to warm
our last caroling circle of the season-
a fragrant burning splendor.

In middle age we fed our mulcher
limb by limb our Christmas trees
drawn and quartered even to the trunk.
Wasting nothing, we husbanded our joys,
returned them layer by layer to earth.

And now grown smaller by Nativities,
our family watches the evening
caretaker wheel our smaller tree
away for curbside pick-up-a harvesting
of still green conifers
bound for lakes as habitats for fish,
for sudden darting, gleaming Chrismons
rippling dark branches in January waters.

Noreen Hayes