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Family Photo Around Xmas Tree

Dad’s left arm reaches across Mom’s back
and even across Dottie’s, his daughter’s,
and just touches with his fingertips
his son Rusty’s shoulder.
Dottie’s ten, Rusty eight, though small for his age
and his left eye a little lazy.
The tree thick
with foil and lights, lit candles, and a mantel hung
with monogrammed socks. Reindeer race
across Dad’s sweater. If you lift
this picture to your nose, you smell cider
and snow, Mom’s valley-of-the-lily
perfume. The fire’s
pine knots snap. Oh bless this family
and their dog, Chocolate,
bless this house and hearth,
and bless Grammy, who will be here soon,
though Grandpa won’t
this year, nor dear Aunt Elsie, dear, dear Aunt.
The big blue bowl of crabmeat salad she brought
each year ditto won’t be here. Bless
this family, the living and the dead,
and may they never send a card
or newsletter to me again.

—Thomas Lux

“Family Photo Around Xmas Tree” from THE CRADLE PLACE: Poems by Thomas Lux.

Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Lux.

Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.


Poetry 180

About the Poet

Thomas Lux (1946-2017) is the author of 20 poetry collections, including To the Left of Time (2016). Born in Northampton, Massachusetts to working class parents, Lux attended Emerson College and the University of Iowa. He died in 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Learn more about Thomas Lux at The Poetry Foundation.