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The Christmas Tree

Bryan Teague

When I was young and Christmas had a Christ,

On Christmas Eve my Dad would disappear

On a secret mission to the woods, to top

A holly tree and trim some berried twigs.


Come rain or shine he tramped the muddy paths

Through leaf-strewn glades and squelching ditches to

His pre-selected target, fingers crossed

That no-one else had been and taken it.


When mission was accomplished he returned

In triumph, bearing a shapely tree aloft,

With sprigs of holly as minor trophies, all

To be received with squeals of great delight.


The potted tree, placed in the sitting-room,

Was hung with tinsel, mini paper-chains,

A star and silver shreds, and finished off

With candles stood in holders clipped to twigs.


The joy of presents underneath the tree,

The lighting of the candles and the smell

Of burning wax that wafted round the room,

The homely flickering of splintered light.


But now the artificial Christmas tree

Is brought down from the attic, shaken out

And twisted into shape on plastic legs,

To be adorned with costly merchandise,


All lit by sets of electric lights that shine

With automated flash. But where, oh where,

The spontaneity, delight? At close

Of Boxing Day the flickering light goes out.


From Poetry Cornwall No 26 (2009)