that I cut you down
with a knife borrowed
from the cafeteria
on a dark December night
because, being Jewish,
I never had a Christmas tree,
so I went behind the dorm
and sawed your slender trunk
before you were able to give
shade and sustenance,
and when I returned to my room,
no one wanted to string popcorn
or decorate you since they were
soon returning to their homes
scented with evergreen,
and I sat alone, pushing a needle
through popped kernels
and dumped you three nights later,
again, in the dark so no others
would know my crime.

Joan Gerstein, a retired educator and therapist, taught creative writing to incarcerated veterans for 5 years, until the pandemic. Joan’s poetry has been published in over 30 anthologies, journals and on-line zines. Her first book of poetry, Theories of Relativity, will be published in Sept. by Garden Oak Press.