Monday, November 2, 2009


This Christmas I’ve grown tall enough
to reach the thinner, higher branches
and my mother allows me to place
the old, glass ornaments, fragile
as butterfly wings. She hands me
hand-painted orbs, crystal icicles,
and I hunt for pedestal branches
like a nest-making turtledove.

Stretching, ambitious for higher sprigs,
I fumble; glass shatters
on the wooden floor.

Laughter stops, sudden as birds
startled into flight. My mother
picks up one large shard, thumbing
its painted poinsettia. Then she sits,
coloured tree lights quivering
in the shine of her eyes.

“This one was my grandmother’s,” she says,
tonelessly. She stares at the glass a moment,
then goes to the kitchen for a broom
to sweep her sentimentality up
off the floor.

This poem was written in response to a prompt on Read Write Poem.

Check out my new Laid post, Video games: a study in gender marketing.

Photo by RLogos

        This poem is fiction, but was inspired by a time when I actually did break one of my mother's heirloom ornaments. Have you ever accidentally lost or destroyed something that was irreplaceable to someone?


Mary said...

Phew thank goodness that was fictional, I was worried for a sec. Anyway I'm pretty clumsy so I'm sure there's been a bunch of those in my life... which is why I prefer plastic/durable Christmas ornaments to old fragile ones that break if you even tap them. Luckily my mom has a million ornaments from Grandma Katie... so the broken ones aren't that missed.

So yeah, let me say it again.. I'm sorry I lost your slingshot... haha. That's probably the only thing I remember losing that was of sentimental value to someone. *tear*

Jerry said...

I've been struggling with what to write from this prompt. You just gave me an idea. Thanks for the childhood inspiration. Christmas ornaments! Now that's real!

Gigi said...

Adelaide - of course we all have memories of breaking something, or having something special broken. I recall a (stupid) trinket box that a boyfriend broke the lid to accidentally...I cried and cried. It wasn't even that sentimental...

Thanks for stopping by my little piece of the world today - even though today was a boring day. Come back again, please! I'll try to have something more important to say....

Rallentanda said...

I enjoyed this poem.This actually happened to me and I felt a piece of my grandmother die again but in
a split second became practical and swept it up..all water under the bridge.There are lovely images
of Christmas here.The old hand painted glass balls are beautiful.

Derrick said...

Hi Shayla,

I'm sure this will have happened to a lot of us. Old glass baubles cause a disproportionate amount of despair when they are broken. Reminders of times that we can never get back.

gautami tripathy said...

It happened with my mom once. She had some antique copper coins belong to her grandmother, with her. One of my brothers, unknowing gave it all away.

scrawled sheet of paper

Paul Oakley said...

I like the way the shards for you are wistful and nostalgic, a miniature mourning of something lost forever now from the world, alive henceforth only in memory.

Cynthia Short said...

really loved this piece. It had a lovely story, much emotion, and was just wrtten beautifully. It is one I can read over and over. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I like how this captures wonderfully from a child's point of view the fickle and changeable behaviors of parents. The mother wanting to give the child more responsibility, being affectionate, and then suddenly aloof when the expected and unexpected happens.

Linda said...

Christmas ornaments was a great response for the prompt. Breakable things can be expected to break but we need to keep our family hearts from breaking.
The poem was a good reminder for me not to be so attached to the ornaments. I am happy you posted this. Thanks, Adelaide.

one more believer said...

i cannot help but to wonder are things of this nature created only to be broken... fragility is painless...

Wayne Pitchko said...

so good.....i enjoyed..thanks for sharing your words

Katie said...

I know I've done it before, but I think I felt so bad about it that I've blocked it out. All I can remember is killing my friend's pet ant in kindergarden. And that was kind of funny.

That's the one thing I hate about Christmas trees, you feel so terrible when something brakes. Some of them I won't even touch.