Partial Psychoanalytic Transcript of Christmas Day

by LIZ ROBBINS

I’d really like to further develop the darker sides of my self, the ones different from my cousin, Doris. Like her, I’ve always been the good girl, smelling of pine and gingerbread, wearing a strung-lights grin, with my blond curls and candlestick figure, my skin—I’m told—tasting faintly of Jesus. What fun I’d have, surprising everyone, dressing in a black garter belt and pointed hat to toss eggs at cars. Each baked cookie winds up in someone else’s throat. My hands are gift boxes. I herd the children together for church, and when they whine and plead, I tie their shoestrings too tight, feed them chocolate to keep them quiet. My husband—the fat, bearded one wearing a three-piece suit—travels to Great Britain and Europe, all across America with his job. He’s been gone for the years of my red and white anger, for the thin streams of hope I swirl in like a barber shop pole. I reach out to the people I’ve always known, send them cheerful greetings with pictures of the children. A kind of tyranny, I know, pressing down in hopes of a response. How else do I exist? By hanging mistletoe beneath my door? Leaving shortbread for the mailman? One of these nights, I’ll lie down in the giant outdoor crèche at the church, in the hay smelling of pigs. Curled beside the glowing Joseph, I’ll sleep, till the men who determine sainthood appear again with their red gowns and rule books to lift me up to the clouds.

LIZ ROBBINS’ poems have appeared recently in Barrow Street, MARGIE, Puerto del Sol, and RATTLE, among others. Poems from her first book, Hope, As the World Is a Scorpion Fish (Backwaters Press), have been featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac and Verse Daily. She’s the recipient of a Schultz Foundation grant and an Intellectual Life Grant, and a nominee for Best New Poets and a Pushcart Prize. She’s an assistant professor of English and creative writing at Flagler College.