Partial Psychoanalytic Transcript of Christmas Day

by Liz Robbins

I’d really like to further develop the darker sides of my self, the ones different from my cousin, Doris. Like her, I’ve always been the good girl, smelling of pine and gingerbread, wearing a strung-lights grin, with my blond curls and candlestick figure, my skin—I’m told—tasting faintly of Jesus. What fun I’d have, surprising everyone, dressing in a black garter belt and pointed hat to toss eggs at cars. Each baked cookie winds up in someone else’s throat. My hands are gift boxes. I herd the children together for church, and when they whine and plead, I tie their shoestrings too tight, feed them chocolate to keep them quiet. My husband—the fat, bearded one wearing a three-piece suit—travels to Great Britain and Europe, all across America with his job. He’s been gone for the years of my red and white anger, for the thin streams of hope I swirl in like a barber shop pole. I reach out to the people I’ve always known, send them cheerful greetings with pictures of the children. A kind of tyranny, I know, pressing down in hopes of a response. How else do I exist? By hanging mistletoe beneath my door? Leaving shortbread for the mailman? One of these nights, I’ll lie down in the giant outdoor crèche at the church, in the hay smelling of pigs. Curled beside the glowing Joseph, I’ll sleep, till the men who determine sainthood appear again with their red gowns and rule books to lift me up to the clouds.

LIZ ROBBINS’ third collection, Freaked, won the 2014 Elixir Press Annual Poetry Award; her second collection, Play Button, won the 2010 Cider Press Review Book Award. In 2015 she won the Crab Orchard Review Special Issue Feature Award in Poetry and in 2016 was nominated for the Pushcart Prize by Fugue. Her poems have appeared in Adroit JournalBeloit Poetry JournalBOAATDenver QuarterlyKenyon Review Online, and Rattle, as well as on The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor; she has poems forthcoming in Poetry East and Salt Hill. She’s an associate professor of creative writing at Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL.