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Sheila 01823 67 28 46

Valerie 01884 84 04 22

Wednesday 16 December 2009


The temperature bleaches the mud,
The puddles turn wrinkled and cloudy
In strange formations.
The ground is iron hard
And whitened into
Winter rigidity.
The earth at midwinter,
Contracted in on itself
Like a body in womblike retreat.

All the souls
Of the dead, their bones
Whitened into powder,
Eaten and changed in
The deep, solid clods.

The sun eases
Into the sky in
Its knife watery light,
Faint in a whisper of time.

Until the Dark
Cold blanket folds
Over, in everlasting
Northern night,

Swallowed into Midwinter
Still - dark - hard
And the deepest
Earliest griefs
Rise and bob
Abandoned, electrified in
Their old life, rise still bleeding
In the winter night,
Around in the unconscious
Existing in tandem
With the Christmas lights
And chaos of shopping bags and choirs,
Seized up trains, passengers left in
The wrong place, crying in tunnels,
Desperate shoppers
Ploughing through
The High Street,
Strangled in scarves.

And in the
Dark tomb of the soul I meet
The poor child
Who started my life….

As the parents’ white bones shift in their graves,
Transformed into a breath of eternity.

© Valerie Taylor
all rights reserved

Tuesday 15 December 2009

On Advent Sunday

I mutter an ancient curse
at the considerable and the wasteful
at the queuing, the crowds,
the carol elevator music

the choosing and the buying of disposable seasonal tat
plastic bags engorged with ambivalent gifts

the politically correct ‘holiday’ greetings I should write, address, stamp and post
but never get round to

not until the last minute

when I panic
send it all First Class

I am sent beside-the-point cards decorated with Santas, reindeer, snowflakes
and loud-mouthed Round Robins
disguised as peacocks
bragging, screaming for attention

I am under an obligation
to erect and then decorate
the annual memorial to Prince Albert

to acquire, prepare, and then cook
a surfeit of extravagant, luxury

Oh to travel, like Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar from the East
to be saved from the entertainment

Our noble guests
unwanted and unasked for
relatives, visitors and erstwhile friends

who pull crackers, don paper hats,
who pose for and snap
the embarrassing
and not all funny
pissed-as-a-newt photos

who insist that they stand
for the Queen’s Speech
who demand games
last year’s hits
all-day telly

They are noisy as a football team celebrating a nil-nil draw
who will drink to
what was
what will be
but never to what

I can guarantee tears
before bedtime

So much for the putting on the glitz of it
the paste jewellery shine of it
the superfluous and the clutter of it
the abundant mess of it
the pressure and the soon to be tired of it

I thank God for it
New Year’s Day

the seventh day of Christmas

© Sophia Roberts
all rights reserved