by Tonya Eberhard
I could wait till sunlight. What shall I do to pass the time? We finished decorating the tree—each light nestles itself in the pines, and glows in the shroud of night. The clock with a stoic face stares back at me, persistent in its measurements. It does not ask for praise. It eats each tick, pushing on to the next number, and the next, and the next. I sit by the window, still as the fallen snow. Its heaps glow a deathly hue of bonfire ash and blue. I envision you trampling through the snow, a figure walking towards me. Your heart is safe with me. But you are far away. I imagine you are on a pilgrimage in the desert, wandering for forty days and forty nights, having visions of miracles and clearing smoke. At the end, you are fulfilled, with purpose. You return to your brothers with prophecies cradled in your arms instead of a gun. I want to believe this is your mission, why they called you away. Upstairs, our son sleeps. How strange he has your face when you've only seen him a number of times so small, they can fit into his open hand. As I wait, who will put these boxes away? They surround the tree, open, filled with tissue paper each decoration shed. It's as if Christmas has passed, and the clock has catching up to do. It continues, a monotone lullaby. Perhaps the one I am waiting for will never return. Maybe I await the man that took his place. The ornaments on the tree glisten, and the space between each one is a longing that I cannot place.
Tonya Eberhard's most recent work has appeared in THAT Literary Review, Thirty West Publishing House, and Third Point Press. She lives in Minnesota.
A 2019 Pushcart Prize nominee, Eberhard's poem can be found in Issue 19 of Glassworks.