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The Perfect Tree
Marilyn Zelke Windau


I am in the corner of the front room
at 5010 W. Wilson Ave., Chicago, Illinois.
My phone number is Pensacola 6-8616.
I am 6 years old and watching my dad
create this year’s perfect Christmas tree.

Fat, glass, football-shaped lights
strapped to each other 8” apart
by braided threads over wires
wait quietly in a musty smelling
cardboard box at my feet.
Two prongs at the black rubber socket end
jab my bare ankle above white doggy slippers.

My chenille bathrobe is warm and too short.
It used to be Helen’s
but I’m even taller than she is now.

Dad has in his hand a drill
with a funny looking, U-shaped crank.
He is lying on the carpet,
his balding head under pine branches,
his glasses tilted, eyes squinting
at the task:
to fill in boughs where boughs are needed.

A pen knife whittles
spare branch ends
and with a shove and a twist:
“Ah, that’s better!
How does it look, Snooks?”

“It’s beautiful, Dad!
Can we put the pretties on now?”


© by Marilyn Zelke-Windau.
Used with the author’s permission.




Marilyn Zelke Windau, of Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, started writing poems at age thirteen. A former art teacher, she has had five books of poetry published: Adventures in Paradise, Momentary Ordinary, Owning Shadows, Hiccups Haunt Wilson Avenue, and Beneath The Southern Crux. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her award-winning work can be found in many journals and anthologies. Marilyn includes her maiden name to honor her father, who was also a writer. When she's not writing, Marilyn works at restoring her 1891 house and creates mosaics, paintings, and books made with tea papers. A Master Gardener volunteer and an art center docent, she is married to a retired environmental engineer, has three daughters, and three grandchildren.


Post New Comment:
Beautiful memory...Enjoyed the poem.~~Doris
Posted 12/06/2015 09:25 PM
I had forgotten the drill and spare branches, but still remember the tinsel strands applied perfectly straight, and one by one.
Posted 12/06/2015 08:34 PM
enjoyed reading your poem, Marilyn. Brought back lots of memories.
Posted 12/06/2015 02:50 PM
Lori Levy:
Paints a very clear and beautiful picture.
Posted 12/06/2015 01:27 PM
Happy Festivities, Mom! It's a peek into your childhood and reminders of my own. I love seeing it posted here!
Posted 12/06/2015 10:36 AM
Janet Leahy:
This same tree-fixing happened at our house. Another father who wanted a perfect tree for his family. Thanks for the memories.
Posted 12/06/2015 07:59 AM
I know it is about a little girl's Christmas tree, but I REALLY like her father. He comes across as such a patient and kind man. Lucky Marilyn!
Posted 12/06/2015 07:56 AM

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