• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 02

Untitled (One Christmas in the eighties)

One Christmas in the eighties
         when the house was clad in winking plastic
she gave him a Rubik’s cube™
         and lo! a tradition grew from a stub of desperation
at what to buy a man who says
         he has everything he needs.

It was a pleasing object in his palms
         delivering frustration just the right side
of motivational. Sometimes
         he would succeed in assembling a uniform face
as she boiled sprouts and basted
         the turkey and swore at the cats circling her feet.

In the garden the frog pond (an old baby
         bath) froze over and each year was harder
to crack. The one called Magic was
         all surface: three interlocking rings fragmented
in his hands, pieces closed and opened
         with a satisfying clack.

The windows fogged. The cats went
         in and out the catflap, transporting devastating gifts
feathered, losing heat. His hands
         grew stiff. The last puzzle was a pyramid, harder
to hold onto, some ancient truth
         spinning in its angles, narrowed to a point.

I never saw a puzzle all complete.
        He’d put each one aside to find her, help her carry


Untitled (One Christmas in the eighties)

steaming dishes, carve the bird.
         Skin and bones remained until we burned those too.
I reach for his memory like a wishbone
         that curls and buckles like tinsel in a flame.