"Give me some light!" cries Hamlet's uncle midway through the murder of Gonzago. "Light! Light!" cry scattering courtesans. Here, as in Denmark, it's dark at four, and even the moon shines with only half a heart. The ornaments go down into the box: the silver spaniel, My Darling on its collar, from Mother's childhood in Illinois; the balsa jumping jack my brother and I fought over, pulling limb from limb. Mother drew it together again with thread while I watched, feeling depraved at the age of ten. With something more than caution I handle them, and the lights, with their tin star-shaped reflectors, brought along from house to house, their pasteboard toy suitcase increasingly flimsy. Tick, tick, the desiccated needles drop. By suppertime all that remains is the scent of balsam fir. If it's darkness we're having, let it be extravagant.
Jane Kenyon, "Taking Down the Tree" from Collected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by the Estate of Jane Kenyon. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Graywolf Press, graywolfpress.org.