The Subtlety of Symbolism

By Theresa Gaynord

The color white usually covers
featureless walls, but when snow
falls and settles on the bough of
trees, it’s a recipe for awakening
that is strangely comforting, like
a white note, slipped subtly beneath
a door, or the creak of a metal door,
opening just a tad, enough to seize
the forces of nature, little bits at a
Today is such a day, subtle. Breakfast
began with some Vanilla Chai Tea,
bottled water, and a few pieces of
chocolate. The smell of pine trees
is still settled inside my nose from the
previous day, when vendors lined busy
streets cashing in on the Christmas
excitement. Trees die for this? I didn’t
want a tree, not this year. But today is
one of those subtle days,
where you remember certain things that
wedge themselves into your soul. One
of the best Christmases I ever had was
when my sister, her roommate, Roberta
and I cut down our own pine in a
Connecticut tree farm. Snow was falling,
not aggressively, but in slow motion,
those large flakes that seem to float on
into eternity before hitting down and
I scrutinized the snow, how it fell without
any form of hesitation or evidence of
struggle. In the night’s distance, flashlights
from other tree cutters outlined the barks
of individual trees. I followed some footprints
to an opening where a medium sized pine stood,
and said, “This one!” Only a couple of hacks
and it was mine, with no evidence of a real
struggle. I looked up, catching snowflakes
with my tongue as they kissed my face,
and I remembered the story, Snowflakes Only
Melt, They Never Die. Crouching down I
probed the snow settled on the ground with my
bare hands to what lay beneath the surface. Earth!
Alive! Regenerative! Snow is beautiful, a good omen,
like the subtle brushstrokes on a blank canvas. And
Christmas, the true meaning beneath the surface,
has a beautiful subtlety all its own. This year, I
do want a Christmas tree, not a real one, because
memories like mine should be protected, put away,
preserved, but a tree nonetheless, a white one,
already decorated and abandoned in some store
front waiting to be rescued. After all, I like
the subtlety of that symbolism. When my family comes
today we will get our tree. When they come today
I will tell them all about this and they’ll give me that
quizzical frown that I so love that is uniquely theirs.
When they come today, we will be absorbed into a
joyous streetscape like silly child-like spirits
floating through the amazing wonder of it all,
totally innocent, fortunes spent, elbows touching,
in a journey of subtle silence.

Categories: Poetry

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