The smell of gingerbread and Christmas tree was everywhere.
I lay writing happy cards, Hallmark thoughts to oblivious friends.
Your body rigid next to mine, knees almost at your chest.
I wished I could appease you, please you, shout you back to kindness.
Surely that love was still there somewhere. I tried to slide the card from underneath your toes.
Did this trigger your explosion?
Or was it the echo of some fleeting impulse, a shattered shell we held between us.
Berating me for all I’d done or not done.
I made it to the door outside our bedroom.
You were as close as love. Or maybe hate is closer.
Forcing the door open, your hand came at me,
a flash of gold and onyx, the ring I’d given you,
the cold edge caught my eye.
And then: gone, the front door slamming, my daughter’s feet approaching me.
Appalled by my broken face, her tears like the lights on the tree
I lay still on the parquet floor, inhaled her scent of soap and powder.
I lied the lie that came to dominate our lives.
And she believed me, of course she did.
The pile of cards scattered on the floor.
The guilty card from under you shone up at me:
deep blue sky, a sled of laughing children, joyfully
leaving a dark house behind, greeting the moonlit snow.
Ellen Jeanne Archer is a Bronx-based poet and teacher. She has worked with students with autism for 25 years. She began writing poetry at 9 years old and has remained faithful to the art ever since. However, life has frequently interfered with--or perhaps fed--her art. She was married for over 20 years and has raised two children. They have grown into strong and loving adults with passions of their own (her son is an actor and poet; her daughter is an assistant teacher in special education). She believes that all of life is one fabric with the threads of reading and writing helping hold it all together. She hopes to continue writing through this life into the next.