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  Lyn Lifshin


    It was all I wanted then and now that I can have one,

    I just think of the trail of needles, water spots on the

    floor. But in the apartment, lights strung across Main

    Street. 78 records near the Batell Block’s loud speaker

    and the shadows of ruby and emerald on snow that was

    so much like a calendar scene Life Magazine was

    always there photographing the white Congregational

    Church spire, the bells always 4 minutes late. Presents

    from out of town were  the most mysterious, there

    on a table my mother covered with crepe paper

    that looked like bricks. My father’s sister gasped, “You

    mean you hung up stockings? You really had a tree? You

    call your father “Ben?” until we were sure we were heathens.

    My grandfather, sly and sneaking around, might climb

    up the stairs to the apartment, come in with his own key.

    Still, one December we had a small tree, on the table. A

    Hannuka bush my mother called it with rings of pastel colored

    paper, tinsel, nothing too angel-y and certainly no star. It

    was green as spring in the flat my mother never fixed up, hoping

    to leave for a new house. It smelled of outdoors, of hills and pine I

    loved from Girl Scout hikes where we slept in bunk beds listening

    to stories. We had no lights or glass bells on the tree, needed

    to be able to quietly snatch the trunk and plunge it into the

    closet hearing my grandfather’s steps but it seemed, with the

    lights inside off and the tinfoil balls and dripping silver near

    the window, we had stars inside, sparkling as in the sky

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