Mama Jones' Little Aluminum Tree

Mama Jones’ little aluminum tree                                               
Sits atop the library table
Strung with silver garland
And the few unbroken decorations
We could find.

Packages piled underneath,
The grandchildren are impatient.
The adults say “after dinner”
Then take their time
Eating, laughing, talking.

The kids circle wrapped boxes
Each trying to get a little closer
 Than the other cousins
Without crossing the line.

I tell my cousin, Lynn,
To open one a little.
She’s smaller than me
And she just does it.

Someone disappears into the kitchen
And the mamas with eyes
In the backs of their heads
appear.
There is no time to explain.
The torn paper says it all.

Aunt Margie boils…….
Little Lynn recoils…….
The poor, unfortunate child.

Switches and such
Make enemies of God’s creation.
The one Aunt Margie uses
Leaves stripes on Lynn’s legs.

Her eyes red
And swollen underneath her curls,
Lynn will not be consoled.

I want to tell my mom
It was all my fault.
Lynn is small
She did not know.

But I sit quietly.
Guilty of an offense.
Christmas has taken a downturn.
Grace has gone into hiding.

-Susan Hudson McBride