Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 16
Spring 2017

First Christmas Without You

by Una Nichols Hynum

I keep trying to miss you, to conjure
your voice, your face.
You took part in so little all those years
no tree, no presents until the night before
when you’d send your already overburdened
adult children to look for something
when there was nothing left on the shelves.
You’d appear in time for family photos
so I know you were there.
My favorite Christmas memory is of
a candlelight service in Heidelberg; none
of the faces were familiar but the light
from the candles made them so. I wore white
sheepskin-lined boots, fur hat and mittens.
It was so silent I thought I could
hear the snow flakes falling.
You may have been there but you’re
missing from my memory.


—Selected for Honorable Mention in the competition for the Steve Kowit Poetry Prize 2016, and first published in the San Diego Poetry Annual 2016-17 (Garden Oak Press, February 2017); appears here with permissions from both poet and publisher.


SHJ Issue 16
Spring 2017

Una Nichols Hynum

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins once called Una Nichols Hynum “the poet who made me wake up.” A graduate of San Diego State University and a finalist for the James Hearst Poetry Prize, Hynum has work published in Rattle, Calyx, Spillway, The North American Review, and Writer’s Digest, as well as in numerous poetry anthologies, including an island of egrets: San Diego Poetry Annual, Magee Park Anthology, 2010 Southern California Haiku Study Group Anthology, and A Year in Ink (Volume 7), among others. She has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and is a member of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury