Shifting back and forth in the car
listening to the dogs’ cry apart 
from the rhythm of the radio
playing low while you 
snake the lines alone.
Judging needles by strength and smell
betting high on hope for the holiday,
our saving grace
to a crazy year.
i can’t breathe
or breathing in smoke we can’t compete with
or the myth of the need for breathing machines
because the system lied to us with each breath.
We saw nothing left
to do but buy a tree that could
bring a breath of fresh air to the front room
shine light in our makeshift tomb.
We added ornaments to remind us
of the fun we took advantage of —
the opening credits we always missed,
the delayed flight to each secret beach
the awkward hug at the end of the night.
We tied it down ourselves to comply, with
twine that screamed tough times.
We should have seen it coming
but we turned out slowly, 
hopeful we could control the trip
but we couldn’t turn down the western winds
or turn down another road before meeting the truck
that took the twine down like Goliath should’ve done.
The dogs whined on the side of the road as we 
double down on our belief that this tree could heal it 
and double-knotted the twine and waved to cars passing by.
It picked up a bruise or two but still looked beautiful
in the living room that doubled as your cubicle.
We didn’t have presents to welcome it
but most of the lights kept from last year
serving as a reminder that we could get there again
and we don’t complain about the slanted star topper. 
We grow despite are wounds just like it.
We admire others for their resilient hearts
but they die shining bright around us.
We’ll do better in the new year,
we’ll make sure to deserve this decorated tree
that sacrificed itself to ease our grief.