We used to trade off,
He hated trees dying in our living room.
I always loved the blue spruces
decorated on my December birthday
But his father fell near theirs
dying in their living room
one childhood night.
So we’d have a year with tangled lights, a crooked stand
he sometimes helped me put together
Then a year with presents stacked on the corner table,
with no dry needles to sweep.
Turn and turn again
a solstice pendulum.
A ring for each alternating year
That was before the fog that eats my life,
some years feast, none famine,
always a forecast of more
She says, I think now
he’d welcome any tree, any year.
About the poet:
After many years as editor of the journal Academic Medicine, Addeane Caelleigh is now associate editor of Hospital Drive, an online journal of literature and art published by the University of Virigina School of Medicine, where she is also an administrator and a teacher of faculty development. Addeane is also curator of Reflections, an interdisciplinary humanities exhibit series at the University’s Claude Moore Health Sciences Library.
About the poem:
“Tree Years was prompted by thoughts of how chronic disease insinuates itself into our lives, changing relationships, reshaping inner lives and shifting the patterns of everyday living.”
Judy Schaefer and Johanna Shapiro