No Snow this Christmas

Mom and Dadmy father broke his ankle tobogganing in college

flying down a snow-packed hill

with my mother in front of him

neglecting her job

for one short bump

dropping his foot

as frost glazed her eyelashes

 

no wonder my mother always worries

 

there is a picture of them standing

on the small porch of the parsonage in Vassar

he is holding his crutches

my regretful mother leaning against his shoulder

as he is gazes into the future

with the biggest smile in all the world

that’s just how he was

full of curiosity and courage

passion and goofiness

 

no wonder my mother always worries

 

Michigan had real winters then

my mom would pull him around campus on a sled

like a pretty little brown-headed reindeer

in her navy worsted-wool coat

sporting a chilly red nose and bobby socks

doing penance for her split-second sin

he would have followed her anywhere

even if she dropped his foot again

 

no wonder my mother always worries

 

this December we look at these fading pictures

while outside Lake Michigan rolls into the shore

waves breaking like it’s still summer

my eldest sister arrives from Grand Rapids

we reminisce, reaching for loved ones gone

remembering winter, remembering snow

especially the snow that was there

as the toboggan flew too quickly toward 1945

and my mother dropped my father’s foot

 

the last time she was worry-free