Christmas Eve, Briggflatts

Yesterday’s snow sleeps on the tarmac;

tight against the dry stone wall, damp sheep huddle.

Step out from the kitchen’s clammy atmosphere

into this unsullied blackness. Leave the front door slightly ajar.

Stand there…do not move. Might this be why we build churches?

Without listening you hear the reassuring hum of the fridge from behind:

and to the right, the spurting of a swollen river slogging westward.

All around, the core of night drums like a broken heart.

Look up. Look up to the stars – the fitful, bad-tempered stars.

All’s familiar, but on this Christmas Eve the scene looks spanking new.

Staring at that wondrous desert, a Christmas melancholy intrudes:

is he alone, is she happy, is he content…are they joyful on this night.

After the blur of speeding years, still they shape our thoughts.

In time, the binoculars become cold to the touch. The kitchen’s

yellow light is heartening, the nut-brown dram she pours the more so.

Together, like binary stars, we’ll toast their health and happiness,

as we orbit the smaller, emptier world bequeathed us.

John Rice

Please note that the poems are copyright John Rice 2014 and cannot be reproduced without the express permission of the author.

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