Ghosts of Christmas Past

Kelly is hosting Poetics today at dVerse and the discussion is about smells and how they affect us and how certain smells can evoke memories. Come join the discussion and add your thoughts about smells. I am linking this to dVerse Poets Pub.

Ghosts of Christmas Past 
First week of the New Year –
somehow the world seems a bit deflated –
a shiny balloon at the end of a stick
and hanging limply, almost flat and
oddly wrinkled. Outside the day is
grey – dull and tarnished.
Gone are the lights from the tree
folded and packed in their box
along with the lustrous crystal
ornaments – the corpse of the
now empty tree is lying at
is at the back of our property –
haunted property peopled by
birds and small animals unafraid
of possible specters.
I stand in my denuded living room –
from the corner of my nose
I catch a quick phantasm of pine –
an ectoplasm of orange and cloves
hovers above the desiccated pomander
of an orange studded with cloves.
Cedar swatches and wreath
rest with the skeleton tree –
the spirit of cedar oil lingers
in the place where they hung briefly
but happily – disembodied tang –
One last deep inhale from me
as I smile and bid them reside
in peace until they feel it is time
to move on to their final resting place
in my memory.

31 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Jan 05, 2016 @ 15:15:56

    I really like how you describe that smell of Christmas… Here in Sweden we are normally keepin the Christmas decoration until 20 days after (January 13)… So a little while longer we may stay in those smells…


    • kanzensakura
      Jan 05, 2016 @ 15:24:13

      I usually keep until the first weekend after Epiphany but the live tree went drier faster than I expected. I love live trees rather than the plastic ones and the freshly cut greens from the woods. I usually keep some vases of cut cedar branches throughout the winter because of that smell.


  2. kelly
    Jan 05, 2016 @ 15:15:57

    Oh this is lovely… your descriptions brought each smell right to my mind. I haven’t had a real Christmas tree in years due to allergies, but I miss that wonderful smell. Thanks for taking me there!


    • kanzensakura
      Jan 05, 2016 @ 15:26:34

      The year I had cancer, I decided, allergies and asthma be damned. I don’t keep the tree up as long as the plastic ones but long enough to enjoy and have that smell. I cut a small cedar from the field and give it a good rinse with the hose to dislodge pollens and such and that helps. My wreaths and swags are all freshly cut as well. I just take more of my meds and enjoy and enhale. I’m glad you could smell my Christmas and got to enjoy it.


  3. Bryan Ens
    Jan 05, 2016 @ 15:39:44

    Christmas has so many wonderful aromas. I love that smell of pine (although it makes my wife feel sick, so I have to enjoy that scent elsewhere)…the smell of turkey in the oven, the smell of wood-fire…I think that most people who celebrate Christmas have those special scents that transport them into (and perhaps back out of) the holiday spirit.


    • kanzensakura
      Jan 05, 2016 @ 16:09:37

      You are right, some of those smells bring bad memories. But I so love those smells. I often cut small branches of cedar and put into vases to enjoy after the tree is gone. I like to, when I am out walking in the woods, to break off a bit of pine or cedar and sniff while I walk – so energizing.


  4. Glenn Buttkus
    Jan 05, 2016 @ 15:43:10

    The live cut-trees, often fresh cut, were my childhood memories; but these days it reduces the clean-up to go with plastic, surrounded by fresh cut wreaths, When I hike in the pine & fir forests, I crush needles up in my hand, to inhale & enjoy for several hours. I like the lines /I catch a quick phantasm of pine/an ectoplasm of orange & cloves/.


  5. Mary
    Jan 05, 2016 @ 15:43:17

    Ah yes, the lingering smell of Christmas. I haven’t had a live tree in a while but I remember when I did how it lingered after the tree was taken out of the house. In fact, perhaps one smells it more momentarily as it lingers in its absence before it then floats totally away. Beautifully evocative poem. I enjoyed the memories it triggered.


  6. lynn__
    Jan 05, 2016 @ 16:36:22

    Your poem is rich with scents of Christmas…i especially like the “phantasm of pine” and the “disembodied tang”! A treat for my nose…


  7. Polly
    Jan 05, 2016 @ 17:44:44

    Good memories of Christmas just past and those further back – I pack all my things away tomorrow, a tradition in our house, twelfth night and all that.


    • kanzensakura
      Jan 05, 2016 @ 17:46:34

      I usually wait until Epiphany as well but the tree started drying out more quickly than usual. Otherwise, it would be taken down this weekend. It’s always so dreary after Christmas!


  8. Grace
    Jan 05, 2016 @ 17:54:22

    Love the Christmas scents from your words Toni ~ My Christmas decors are still up and about, and I will take them down this week ~


    • kanzensakura
      Jan 09, 2016 @ 22:24:31

      I always leave one up so the world doesn’t seem so dark and drab. This year I am keeping out a small Nativity set in my kitchen window so I can see it daily and enjoy.


  9. The Literary Doc
    Jan 05, 2016 @ 18:32:04

    What a marvelous poem here… that image of a shiny balloon at the end of a stick is going to hang with me for awhile. Just a great image, and an excellent metaphor for so much. Thanks for this!


  10. Sanaa Rizvi
    Jan 05, 2016 @ 19:44:31

    Such a beautiful poem Toni 🙂 love the use of metaphor.


  11. Candy
    Jan 05, 2016 @ 19:47:59

    perfect description of these post holiday days


  12. Bodhirose
    Jan 05, 2016 @ 22:49:51

    I so enjoyed this, Toni. I love how you describe the last vestiges of Christmas scents as they hang briefly in the air like ghosts. We always have a live cut tree and have now kept a tradition of keeping it up until my daughter’s birthday which is January 13…and I notice that is a tradition in Sweden (according to Bjorn). Interesting that.


    • kanzensakura
      Jan 09, 2016 @ 22:21:14

      I usually keep up until Epiphany but this year, the tree dried out so quickly and began dropping needles in a flurry – so….but it is at the back of our yard and the birds and small critters are enjoying th bit of extra hiding space and the seeds I put out under it for them.


  13. MarinaSofia
    Jan 06, 2016 @ 04:04:00

    Oh, the sadness of packing up Christmas! I’ll be doing that tonight and am not looking forward to it, for no matter how much I hated the preparation for Christmas, it feels sad to box it all up. I too love the smell of real trees, even if they fade far too soon. The final resting place in the memory is a lovely, evocative phrase.


    • kanzensakura
      Jan 09, 2016 @ 22:18:41

      I always leave some decoration out/up to keep winter from seeming so dark and drab after Christmas. This year I kept out a tiny Nativity scene to place in my kitchen window. I don’t do as much as I used to but real trees and wreaths are mandatory.


  14. Adriana Citlali Ramírez
    Jan 06, 2016 @ 15:55:50

    That is a great opening, and an evocative poem.


  15. Linda Kruschke
    Jan 06, 2016 @ 17:43:15

    This is wonderful, though it reminded me I still need to take my decorations down. I always leave them up until Epiphany, which is today, so I guess I know what I’m doing tomorrow night. Anyway, I love the phrase “quick phantasm of pine.” What a great description for a lingering scent of something now gone. Happy New Year! Peace, Linda


    Jan 07, 2016 @ 09:45:31

    A delightful clawing back of receding Christmas scents. A lovely cheering poem.


  17. sreejaharikrishnan
    Jan 07, 2016 @ 22:45:19

    Christmas scent …! Enjoyed!


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