Tinsel, Frankincense, and Fir
By Dana Gioia
Hanging old ornaments on a fresh cut tree,
I take each red glass bulb and tinfoil seraph
And blow away the dust. Anyone else
Would throw them out. They are so scratched and shabby.
My mother had so little joy to share
She kept it in a box to hide away.
But on the darkest winter nights—voilà—
She opened it resplendently to shine.
How carefully she hung each thread of tinsel,
Or touched each dime-store bauble with delight.
Blessed by the frankincense of fragrant fir,
Nothing was too little to be loved.
Why do the dead insist on bringing gifts
We can’t reciprocate? We wrap her hopes
Around the tree crowned with a fragile star.
No holiday is holy without ghosts.
Dana Gioia, “Tinsel, Frankincense, and Fir” Copyright © 2016 by Dana Gioia. Reprinted with the permission of the author. DanaGioia.com New Year’s by Dana Gioia, Poet Laureate of California