Poetry Wednesday: The Last Christmas

This piece is from the first draft of my novel in verse, Reaper’s Moon. It is an epilogue of sorts. It seems appropriate, given the Christmas theme, to post The Last Christmas on this Christmas Wednesday.

The Last Christmas

The house fills with aromas
cinnamon, vanilla, apple and pine
reminding me that Christmas is coming
I do not hold high hopes for great presents
it would be silly to do so
never set one’s self for disappointment
may it be avoided
I wait for sounds of stirring
an indication it is okay to be up and about
Christmas morning is not until tomorrow
good to be patient and wait when the house is full
of sleeping relatives who do not want to be awakened
by a clumsy fourteen year old girl
noise emerges from the area of the kitchen
perhaps Mama is awake and starting breakfast
surely help would be welcomed with food preparations
I ease out of the warm bed onto the cold floor
frigid and creaking under my toes as I try to be a mouse
creeping, scurrying slowly toward the kitchen
creep, creak, creep, thud as I trip
falling three steps down to the first floor
desperately hope no one has heard
quickly extracting myself from the floor
continue on my journey to the kitchen
wanting so much to be helpful on this day
full of stress, too many relatives, too many expectations
of what a successful holiday should be
Mama stands over the stove starting maple sausages
their maple sweet scent starts to permeate the air
mixing with all the other holiday fragrances
and the increasing odor of coffee
smells of morning alongside a holiday backdrop
combating odors make me feel a little queasy
no, no illness on this day I plead with my stomach
try to make the best of it all
may forgo eating breakfast but no crime in helping
many mouths to feed today
Mama pays no attention to me
she flips sausages on the griddle
then turns to cracking eggs in a bowl
standing by waiting to become scrambled eggs
at the thought of their silky texture I
feel more ill but attempt to suck it up
I move closer to Mama and my presence is noted
‘Your help is not needed Lys, you’ll just make a mess’
story of my life – too clumsy for my own good
‘Thought you may want help, sorry
I’ll just sit here – quiet like stone’
Mama goes back to preparing breakfast
I sit at the table observing
wishing I could be more useful
to Mama, to everyone
always looking in, wanting to be more
find new meaning in days and holidays
this year is not that year
so I sits transparent to Mama
and others who migrating in
shuffling straight for the coffee pot
only grunting at Mama by way of ‘Thanks and Good Morning’
not human until caffeine intake is adequate
I fail to understand the allure of coffee or caffeine
makes me too jittery – a live wire
hate to shame Mama with my inadequacies
year after year Mama’s shame increases
not a thing I can do to ease Mama’s burden
after all I was born and continues to live
I now has full understanding why people
become prone to depression during the holidays
these days always make me more insightful toward
my own shortcomings on full display to
family, relatives and friends if I had friends
like invisible stone, my presence goes without notice
I am grateful
knowing that later I may not be so fortunate
a belittled little black sheep me
breakfast commences and the conversation is silence
broken apart by the occasional grunt pretending to be a request
to pass the sausages, eggs, toast or coffee
especially coffee
breakfast breaks as quickly as it began
everyone scampers off to their corners
like a herd of elephants running from a predator
I make a quick shockingly quiet dash for my room
mercifully unnoticed
I spend the day in my sanctuary
from time to time, my senses are assaulted
by the sounds and smells of cooking
Christmas Eve preparations underway
most of time is passed in napping
not sure what else to do with
time, the rest spent lost in a book
safest place to be when relatives are afoot
night falls and Mama comes to collect me
time for horrors of dinner to commence
no escaping the commentary, the disappointment
all seated around the table
heads bowed in pre-meal prayer
waiting to rip into the ham and each other
a special dinner nothing more than a war zone
war zone with food that goes down like ash
even if it was tasty before it hit the table
escape from battle is futile
I know that holidays are as close
as I will ever know of wartime sufferings
quiet and wanting not to be noticed
prayers cease and food begins its
rounds around to vultures
vultures too lazy to circle their prey
cooked or containing a frantic heartbeat
no words spoken as plates are filled
forks shovel charred morsels quickly toward
waiting snapping mouths
scrapping forks and knives
along vibrating porcelain crying out
trying to taunt those uncomfortable
around this dais of ritual
ritual that should die and never be repeated
with those assembled
trying to be so mouse-like is me
wanting to be absorbed by the chair
giving exit from this prison
nothing, nothing happens but scrapping,
shoveling, chewing, grumbling in consumption
waiting while stomach twists and churns
needing anything, a word
a reason to flee, to hide
did I build up unrealistic expectations
no, never
memories cannot lie
I am behind enemy lines being taunted
taunted with silent words
the enemy will descend without fail
must be ready, don mental armor
even if it is weak, it is better
better than just me alone
silverware cease their porcelain song
is it time
complete silence as predators contemplate
contemplate the best attack method
crouching, itching to strike
I feel their anticipation digging into my flesh
claws coming out from behind eyes boring
devilish smiles drag up lips
a firestorm comes on quick wings
with growls, they bare their fangs
the silence splinters under pressure
a blinding flash of light
pain snares my head
clutching it, I bow
as they howl breaking
from their mission
raise my head up
glimpse the horror
blood pouring from eyes
as howls breaking into struggling breaths
everyone except Mama and
my little sisters, Ellie and Missy
my enemies fighting themselves
fighting what seems to be death
death coming on swift brutal wings
is this the day Mama had spoken of?
the Day of Reckoning?
why are the four of us free
free from this bloody demise
am I really free
pain beating out of my skull
makes me think otherwise
every bone pulsing, hurting beneath
papery skin pulling
what is happening to me
to them as last breaths
come as shuddered sighs
thick in my eyes
slipping under water
hearing Mama’s cries so far
far away from my hands
only grasping the lace tablecloth
to avoid sliding under
drowning unto myself
bones twisting, turning
stronger than before
gain strength in the surrounds
of Death’s guise
Mama, sisters
wailing but unchanging
only sorrow clings to them
emotion vibrant and colorful, new
grey lines streak the sky
shadow lands taken to the dead
taken to the dying
shake my head, maybe
my body no longer mine
mourning cries, wolves sound
wolves so close with purple streaks
accenting the haunting stench of death
screams of terror follow
dutiful little soldiers
marching in line purple, grey, black
perfect circle
yet I do nothing
but sit
gripping the last vestiges
of tangible reality keeping me
anchored, upright
noises muffle, my eyes focus on
the strange swirling colors
purple, grey, black
until new cries join
join into the cacophony
not human, not wolf
the stars
the stars are howling
into this blackest night
I give in, oh vocal stars
I give in
take me home
into the dark

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