One strand flickered while the others glowed strong,
Its off-and-on an S-O-S that signaled something wrong
With our Christmas. First the youngest said: Let’s hide it in the back
Where none of us will notice it. But even there the lack
Of light was powerful, as if the core of something grand had died.
Pass me the replacement bulbs, the middle daughter sighed
And sat cross-legged, testing every one along the twisted rope
Until the numbness in her legs made her abandon hope.
Why don’t we leave this mess? the oldest said, Let’s make a Walmart run.
We strapped our seatbelts on. I said: This sick tradition’s done.
There is no fixing of what can’t be fixed. Then bitterly I snapped
The cloying “Holly” station on, and that’s when we were wrapped
In the departed tones of Nat King Cole, who crooned “The Christmas Song.”
We left behind our broken tree. We gamely sang along.