“We should have gotten more of these.”
Someone says it every Christmas, not an observation but a ritual.
They’re little wooden birds for the tree, bright colors, each one is different,
a clip at the base to keep them on the branches.
It was 1999 in Krakow, we couldn’t even find hooks for Christmas ornaments.
But we found these little wooden birds.
My dad bought twenty from the carver.
He thought it would be enough.
An abridged list of other things I thought would be enough:
Half a roll of wrapping paper, for my boyfriend’s birthday.
A quarter tank of gas to get to Spartanburg.
How much I loved every single thing that went away from me.
Sometimes I think the birds are like years of our lives,
or like lies we told ourselves.
On the worst days, I think these things are the same
When my father left I told him marriage is hard.
He said don’t do that, don’t oversimplify it, this is complicated.
But it wasn’t.
All we needed was more birds
Some things we got tired of saying:
Maybe this is for the best,
The arc of the universe is long,
Dad is such an asshole.
But every year, like a prayer we say,
“we should have gotten more of these.”
We should have gotten more.
How could we think this would be enough?
If we could go back, God, we swear we would get it right.
Louise Platter is a poet from Athens, Georgia. She is working towards a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management at the University of Georgia. Her work is inspired by confessional poets, the natural world, and her undergraduate studies in literature and philosophy.