The Forrester’s Son


I like the rattle of glass milk jugs
or a house lit with candles.
Its Americana suburban pastoral
reminds me of chopping down
Christmas trees in the woods while
tucked under a red socked
cap, though we always picked
ours from the YMCA parking lot.
Some years we would work, father and I,
selling trees that looked asthmatic
or bedridden, like they ought to have
never been grown. I huddled
around the fire barrel or crawled
into the tented space between the
lean of the trees with the other boys,
pretending we were sequestered,
resting in our private warming hut
far in the forest, or maybe curled
behind a rushed shelter against a cliff
while the wind whistled and rattled past.
My father stood in the wind, away
from the trees, watching lights
pass on the road while other fathers
stood together behind the rows
of evergreens. One night—we left
late—he pulled a nutcracker
from under his coat as we roasted
almonds over the fire barrel,
blazing and swirling like a tempest.
It wore a carved evergreen coat and red
forester’s hat, all whittled in wood, safe
against Bavarian chill. I still have him.
He looks warm up on the mantle
next to the candles in their hurricane
lamps made of milk jugs.