Find the Dangling Modifier

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

       -fir Dana Gioia

As I hang ornaments on our Fraser fir this year,
I am reminded of the year we had a Douglas fir
and, also, of one year we had a Balsam fir,
and, although their limbs were droopier,
I can’t complain about those firs or the years
they stood for. What I can complain about, sir,
is the scratchéd ornaments you’ve charged me for
and the ice-block solid quality of the weather
this particular winter. Humbug! But also, brrr.
This hard freeze really sticks in my fur
or rather in the black-wire hair of the cur
shivering outside upon the cellar door.
He’s scratching nonstop and shabbier
than any other “winterhund” — my mother
raised him, so little joy had she to share,
but she should have left him at the pound.
Or dropped him off at doggy lost and found.
Yet here we are, hanging chippéd ornaments
on a tree that — though markedly stiffer
than trees past — reminds me of mother
and her love of dying things. Why do the dead
insist on bringing gifts we can’t reciprocate?
I’m not sure what that means, but let’s concur:
it’s poetry for a holiday, and leave it therr.

• • •

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