Those brown leaves beneath the brush
whisper to me what it means to be alive
and their husk of language sounds
like the slogan at the zavvi store –
Take the Nightmare out of Christmas.
But nightmares bind the cortex
in chains, and online pop-up
catalogues spam my brain with links
to jingling ring-tones. In my sleep,
radiators clank tills and trolleys spill
onto horror aisles where Barbie dolls
squeal Fairytale of New York all night
in harsh mono. Security guards scissor
pockets stuffed with debit cards and drain
syrup from tins, their methods senseless
and inscrutable as clouds delivering
a year of rain in the month’s first hour,
a gush of floods that rush the bric-a-brac
from my lounge to a newly-trashed motel
before I wake up and sweep the drive.
Mid-morning, the Salvation Army brass
strikes up Silent Night, and clove-scent
saturates the Christmas market
with the cathedral’s choir of bells.
The dry suspicion of what it means
to be alive and unprotected
is interrupted by my daughter asking
for snow – now! – tomorrow too distant
even to dream. She has fifty pence
in her fist and lifts it to the sky.
From Iota 83 & 84 (Spring 2009)