Christmas, 1970

By Sandra M. Castillo b. 1962
We assemble the silver tree,
our translated lives,
its luminous branches,
numbered to fit into its body.
place its metallic roots
to decorate our first Christmas.
Mother finds herself
opening, closing the Red Cross box
she will carry into 1976
like an unwanted door prize,
a timepiece, a stubborn fact,
an emblem of exile measuring our days,
marked by the moment of our departure,
our lives no longer arranged.

Somewhere,
there is a photograph,
a Polaroid Mother cannot remember was ever taken:
I am sitting under Tia Tere’s Christmas tree,
her first apartment in this, our new world:
my sisters by my side,
I wear a white dress, black boots,
an eight-year-old’s resignation;
Mae and Mitzy, age four,
wear red and white snowflake sweaters and identical smiles,
on this, our first Christmas,
away from ourselves.

The future unreal, unmade,
Mother will cry into the new year
with Lidia and Emerito,
our elderly downstairs neighbors,
who realize what we are too young to understand:
Even a map cannot show you
the way back to a place
that no longer exists.

Sandra M. Castillo, “Christmas, 1970” from My Father Sings, to My Embarrassment. Copyright © 2002 by Sandra M. Castillo. Reprinted by permission of White Pine Press.

Source: My Father Sings to My Embarrassment (White Pine Press, 2002)

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Poet Sandra M. Castillo b. 1962

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Living, Youth, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Religion, Christianity, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Sandra M. Castillo

Biography

Born in Havana, Cuba, poet Sandra Castillo moved to Miami, Florida, with her family in 1970. Castillo earned both her BA and MA in creative writing from Florida State University. She is the author of My Father Sings to My Embarrassment (2002), selected by Cornelius Eady for the White Pine Press Poetry Prize. Her poems have been published in Cimarron Review, Midway Journal, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, PALABRA: A Magazine of . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Youth, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Religion, Christianity, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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