Eau de “War on Christmas”

Eau de “War on Christmas”

Late winter, stuck behind
The garbage truck that takes the trees

Wherever they go when Yule
Is done. The crunching mandibles

Ahead, the fractured limbs
Compose a tableau from The Lives

Of the Saints: but from the scratch
Of wood on metal, I sniff the sap:

It blows into my car,
The bow wave of a nova’s blast

As ten trees’ smell become
In death a forest’s worth of green.


When all this pine last filled
The car, it was December: I rode

Beside a stranger in
An Uber Pool, no words exchanged,

Subjected to talk radio
And the scent of Pine Fresh Hanging Tree

Billowing back to us.
The Merry side was winning, and

Mere Happy vanquished: not
Oh Sheila but O Tannenbaum

Would be the tune to carry
That loyal smell enwreathing us all.


Truth is, Merry I’m not,
Now least of all. I’m rooting for

The tree, though: even for
That dangling specimen in the car,

I hoped I’d never see
Its boughs fade into gray, and smell

The citrus arson tang
Of bark beetle armies at their work.


This unlit pyre ahead
Is planting memories—the kind

Only accessible
By smell, that jack in deeper than

The wavering 2D
Of sight or sound. Now I’m back here

From a drier future:
The winters then don’t freeze; the pines

And their invasive bugs
Have found an equilibrium

That almost reads mesquite
In the nose. From then, the made-up fight

To claim this smell will seem
Like battling for the Hanging Pine,

Which long since lost its scent,
Kept in a reverential box

Like a beloved’s last clothes
That come, instead, to smell like you.

May 2017

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