Kneeling Spinsters

Every Christmas Eve

We drive to the Catholic Church

And we light a candle for your dead sister,

Whose hair was the colour of the straw

Of the nativity,

Whose soul was as bright as the neon lights

That reflect in the cold puddles

Along the wet high street.

And none of us believe,

And none of us pray to their God,

We are aliens

We are intruders here

But we are welcomed nonetheless,

Welcomed in silence by the kneeling spinsters

Who tug at dowdy sheets of linen,

Who set out candles on the wooden altar,

Who have enough belief for us all

Thank the Lord for the kneeling spinsters.

Death at Christmas

She fell face forward

Onto the wet pavement

And she was dead.

And her face was blue

When they rolled her over

As blue as the ocean in winter,

And her daughter screamed

Howled into the glittering street

Full of hopeful shoppers

All of them deaf to her moans,

All of them shrouded in wool

And Christmas fear.

And her aged face was dented

By the grey slab

And there was nothing to be done

And there was nothing to be said

Lyme Park

Lyme Park in the snow
Was a sight to behold,
Leafless trees lined row on row
And a fold of whiteness falling away on either side,
Like infinite blotting paper.

I sat duffle-coated on my sled,
Atop the slope
Fingers round the yellow twine
And then I saw her, the girl in red,
The girl directly in my line of flight.

And I don’t think that I had ever seen
Such beauty in a girl before
And suddenly it all made sense,
Life, love and honour
Seemed tied up in her woollen scarf

And for a moment
The five year old became the man,
And I caught a glimpse of life’s great plan
Mapped out across the Virgin snow,
But something made me let it go

And push off from my resting place,
Something fearful deep below
Pursued me as we gathered pace,
My sled and I,
We hit her squarely on the thigh

And there we were
That girl and me,
Tossed flotsam-like on a stormy sea of white,
Whilst adults ran from left and right to rescue her.
The girl in red cried silent tears,

Away was led
And someone near was overheard to say
This was indeed a sorry way to end the day.