The Ghosts of Christmas Past
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The Ghosts of Christmas Past • Posted: Dec 21, 2018 20:32:45Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

A man, a man lives there,
in that house,
nestled near the rocks,
not far from a stream,
beside a dirt road
that leads to woods,
with paths tourists sometimes take,
on foot,
on bikes,
on skies,
on snowmobiles,
with friends,
with lovers,
with kids,
and, on occasion,
as he often does,
with only his dog,
who runs out ahead,
and sniffs,
and piddles,
and sniffs some more,
then runs ahead, again.

Not far down the path,
well into the woods,
the sounds of trucks,
and cars
from highway near,
fade to hush.
One can hear the rustle
of leftover leaves,
the tinkle of snow falling,
the crack of ice in the stream,
the crunch of snow under foot.
Sometimes, a bird will coo,
or a squirrel will chatter.
And always,
waters in the stream
whisper a low whoosh
and gentle gurgling.

The rocks, high and craggy,
tell a story the man
has often wondered about.
They have been here
a long long time,
since before the glaciers
that carved the lands
beyond the stream,
beyond the woods
and hills,
out onto the vast flat plains
where all the corn is grown.
Those rocks withstood
a crushing force
of mile high ice.
They have, in fact,
weathered a great many changes
since a very very long time ago,
since well before the icy glaciers came.
What have they seen,
the man has wondered?
What inner strength
has kept them so enduring,
steadfast in place?
The mysteries of those rocks,
nearly unfathomable,
have never failed
to engage his mind
and ease his suffering,
his long lonely,
so very long and lonely,

The other way
back down that dirt road
along which
the tourists come,
is what was the Chalet,
with its German Pub.
Over the years,
he went there often,
before it finally
closed its doors,
after its owners died,
its actual German owners.
That’s where he met her,
the lady he often dreams about.
They’d talk, talk a lot,
when she wasn’t busy
serving drinks.
She was nice, very nice,
a healthy stout woman,
with pink flushed skin.
a full bosom,
and kind interested eyes.
She was also married,
which is why he had never
asked her out.
But, she would talk with him,
when she wasn’t busy
serving drinks.
And that was all it took
for him to dote on her.
Since he’d met her,
he’d never had interest
in any other woman,
over many many years.

That last night before
the pub closed,
a few years back,
near Christmas,
he bought her a drink,
and they’d clinked their glasses
in toast to the many years
that have passed,
and to whatever may lie ahead.
With reluctance,
they both swallowed
that harsh warm liquid,
then smiled into each other’s eyes,
for quite a long time,
finally turning,
both looking
off into space,
at the emptiness
that lay before them.

That was the last time
he ever saw her.
They did not
exchange phone numbers,
or email addresses.
They did not hug,
or kiss under mistletoe,
nor sing Auld Lang Syne,
or dance one last dance.
They just clinked their glasses,
looked into each other’s eyes,
smiling with genuine emotion,
perhaps unspoken affection,
then both reluctantly
turned away.

That was hard for him.
It was.
A tightness clutched his throat,
at his chest,
and knotted his stomach.
His arm even quivered
as he set his glass down
to pull his hand away.
He wanted to grab her hand,
squeeze it tight,
and never let go.
But, he hadn’t done that.
She was married.
He couldn’t do that.
She was who she was,
who she had to be.
And he, who he was,
who he had to be.

And so, he now looks
to those rocks,
and to the trees,
the stream,
and to his dog
far out ahead,
and he cannot help but
feel the gnawing cold
deep in his bones,
as his boots crunch the snow.
But, there is, as always,
the warmth in her eyes,
those kind interested eyes,
the flush of her skin,
the fullness of her bosom,
and the compassion,
laughter, and
genuine sincerity
that had nearly always been
within her voice.
Those things were still there,
fresh, alive in his mind,
for him to remember,
remember always,
near Christmas,
and not.

Sunday, December 9th, 2007
Camp Douglas