Poetry Friday: Taking Down the Tree

after “Taking Down the Tree” by Jane Kenyon

“..​​.If it's darkness
we're having, let it be extravagant.”

We took down the tree
packed it in its box
swept up the plastic needles
carefully stored the ornaments
shelved the quiet holiday we’ve
learned to make our own –
mostly pagan and secular
yet there are angels and carols –
though the images and words
burned deep in memory
now hold no truths.
We took down the tree
coiled and stored the lights
added another blanket to the bed
welcomed juncos to the feeder
pulled on hats and scarves 
while we wait for longer warmer days
that come a minute at a time
as the earth flings itself
towards tomorrow.

© Mary Lee Hahn, draft 2023

Marcie has this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup along with a fantastic text set to accompany her book about dormancy, WAIT, REST, PAUSE.

The image of the junco came from Unsplash.

18 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Taking Down the Tree”

  1. Mary Lee, You have touched my heart and my existence with these lines. You speak so eloquently about how life is in these times and in my winter. Thank you for the inspiration. 💚📚 ✏


  2. What a lovely poem–you make me want to appreciate the chore of taking the the tree more than I usually dread the task.


  3. I didn’t have a big tree this year and actually missed this ritual. It gives time in January to relish the memories from the ornaments & doodads I have kept all the years. Thanks for this special poem, Mary Lee, ready “as the earth flings itself/towards tomorrow.”


  4. Lovely, reflective poem, which in tone reminds me of Sara L. Holmes’s “The Bones of January.” I like “shelved the quiet holiday . . . ” and the sense of waiting for what’s next.


  5. Taking down the tree was intentional and meditative for me this year. I can relate to this line, “shelved the quiet holiday we’ve
    learned to make our own” as we get older and our family is spread out. I love the gentle ending where we wait as “the earth flings itself
    towards tomorrow.”


  6. I can see every moment of this and the truth of “mostly pagan and secular
    yet there are angels and carols” hits home. Thank you for this beautiful poem.


  7. Mary Lee, thanks for your comment on my blog post and find delight in your post, mentor text, and your own poem rooted in reality. The season is over, yet memories will remain, as “earth flings itself/towards tomorrow. I read your poem over and over and do love it as is.


  8. Mary Lee, what a beautiful piece — there is a sense of cultivated and treasured ritual along with the waiting game that January becomes. Lovely!


  9. Lovely images, Mary Lee – our tree is actually still up over in the house in the Upstate (where we’re moving permanently); we’d intended to take it down in early January but car troubles kept us from getting over there as planned! I’ve been once since, but it was such a crazy quick unloading trip, I only managed to get wreaths and bows from the outside stashed on the inside. I love the way you present a “chore” as an activity with intention. Happy New Year, and Happy Lunar New Year!


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