Two Poems by Diane Elayne Dees

Two Women

I see two different women every day
in my mirror. One looks healthy, one looks weak;
one wants to run, the other wants to stay.

One’s put together, one’s in disarray;
one of them seems stable—one’s a freak.
I see two different women. Every day,

I wonder what their younger selves would say,
or would they be too terrified to speak?
One wants to run. The other wants to stay,

though she knows too well the price she’ll have to pay;
life has scarred her, left her landscape bleak.
I see two different women every day—

one’s very essence has begun to fray,
the other still looks vital, strong and chic.
One wants to run, the other wants to stay.

I wish that both of them would find a way
to come to terms with what it is they seek.
I see two different women every day;
one wants to run, the other wants to stay.

Life Cycle

There were storms, and there was Christmas.
The empty spruce, perfect in its bare elegance,
lies next to piles of cracked oak and pine limbs
shaken down by strong winds and relentless rains.
Their juxtaposition is startling. The empty tree—
still green—radiates some of the beauty denied it
by its recent burden of glittery cones, ornaments
and tiny white lights. Now it is just a tree,
tossed out to die and then be hauled away.

When I was a child, my father would chop down
a pine tree, dip pine cones and sweet gum balls
in bright red and green paint and attach them
to the tree to mingle with the glass ornaments.
Christmas was a violent, frightening affair,
but at least there was a tree—something
that represented life in the little house
near the woods where hope had already
relinquished its green potential and quietly died.

It would be decades before I would bring home
my own Christmas tree, an act that nudged me
out of the darkness of the past—
an organic testimony to the power of ritual,
a fragrant symbol of celebration,
my commitment to tribal comfort.
Now, years later, the cats who slept
under the Christmas tree are gone,
the husband who wanted nothing to do
with the Christmas tree is gone.

But I am still here, and my tree,
which may soon be mulch,
or protection for marshland,
gave me gifts of beauty and belonging,
and I honor its brief life.
All our lives are brief, as we struggle
to stay green, with or without decoration.
Like Christmas trees, we are cut down
again and again, exposed just as we are,
imperfect in our bare inelegance.

Diane Elayne Dees is the author of the chapbooks, Coronary Truth (Kelsay Books), The Last Time I Saw You (Finishing Line Press), and The Wild Parrots of Marigny (Querencia Press). She is also the author of three Origami Poems Project microchaps, and her poetry, short fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in many journals and anthologies. Diane, who lives in Covington, Louisiana, also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that delivers news and commentary on women’s professional tennis throughout the world. Her author blog is Diane Elayne Dees: Poet and Writer-at-Large.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s