Mask

Another year, pages

Of smiling faces, family members

Arms wrapped around shoulders

Hugs so tight you can’t breathe

Of better times when we laughed, ate cake

Together

When Uncle Jim would play Santa

And Aunt Wilma forgot tags on gifts

Slippery ice made walking paths dangerous

Between cabins warmed by gathered crowds 

sipping cocktails or beer

Together

Popcorn strings a merry substitute

For the finer tree décor back home

No lights except those we imagined

But no one cared because

We were happy to be there

Together

In an alpine setting far from town

Smoke billowed from our chimneys

Leaving just enough room for a sleigh

The sound of carols filled the kitchen

Joyous and merry on the outside

Together

A name drawn from a red cap

Decided who would go next 

To choose a gift to open

From the annual exchange

Of unknown donors

Together

Merrymaking clarified life then

Created a mask of perfection

Family, love and joyous times

Reason to live, reason to sing

Because we were

Together

What became of the laughter

Can only be surmised by time

Hardships of life

People disappear from the photos

Year after year, no more

Together

Busy lives lost in a tv screen

Talking to no one and everyone

With hopes of notoriety 

Influential words that no one 

Reads or wants to

Together

Impossible flights to nowhere

Century storms keep us alone

Destined to never repeat

What is obvious in those pages

Of smiling faces, family members

Together


—Victoria Emmons, ©2022

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