A Christmas Story

Wynona pleases well. You shouldn’t have
she says, unwrapping. Thank you . . . overlapping
with Mr. Stone who drones, You shouldn’t have
but thank you, did you see? to Mrs. Stone
who didn’t see but says she did, then does.

Even her brothers, back when they were two
right shoes, had aced the gracious face but paled
next to Wynona. Queen of subtlety,
she punctuates the lulls. Her holidays
are days when pleasing means not disappointing.

Before you shouldn’t have she mastered glee,
the giddy gig, to fare absurdities
from enterprising elves to fairy hoarders—
myths she’d washed her hands of years before
she found the stash, heard muffled cussing, late,

as Mr. Stone bungled some unforeseen
assembly. Still, Wynona played along,
surprise reprised, half-understanding life
over and over would require this
belief in things after they don’t exist.  end