Christmas Eve in Dad’s kitchen
and now only I know which bits of Delia
we follow, which we skip, and what
The Dairy Book of Home Cookery (1968)
still knows best. I know to find the stump-handled
jug for the cranberry jelly, and why eight pints
of milk is probably just enough, factoring in
bread sauce and white sauce and people
wanting extra cups of tea because so much
rich food is bound to make them thirsty.
I know how to arrange the little cottage
on the cake beside the bald tree, and Santa
listing up the piped path, know even to dib
the two sets of hoof-prints behind his reindeer.
I know when to fetch the turkey from the garage
to warm up, and what she would have done
with the giblets, which I won’t.
When everyone’s asleep, only I know
I open the jar of cloves she sealed last year
and breathe her in. It almost works.
Alison Binney is an English teacher and poet from Cambridge. This year she was longlisted in the National Poetry Competition, Highly Commended in the Bridport Prize, and had two poems published on buses in Guernsey. Her website is: https://alisonbinney.co.uk
Season’s Greetings from the Heart
When you greet me at Arrivals
I see that you are broken.
Outside Aeropuerto de Barcelona-El Prat
rainy streets hemmed with aerial lights
Shopping Gods gorged on good cheer
relentless, joyous tunes –
but we’re indifferent
to their raucous carolling
press on past cutsie gluhwein huts
glutted shop windows –
their Chi Chi headless manikins.
I match your step – feel
your arm seek mine – know
all you want for Christmas
I tell you that a promise can dissolve
as a passion on the lips
can turn to mist
what’s real is life dropped at the doorstep
to come running.
We leave the glitz
for alleys silvered in puddles of moon
forage for lost scraps of heart –
we’ll pocket them.
Kathryn Alderman: Publication online and print includes: Amaryllis, Atrium, Bonnie’s Crew, Eye Flash Poetry Journal, I Am Not a Silent Poet, The Cannon’s Mouth. She won Canon Poet’s ‘Sonnet or Not’ (20120. She co-chaired Gloucestershire Writers’ Network (2016-19). https://
Feast of the Epiphany
And any minute now those kings will come
crashing in with their unwanted gifts.
Today our beautiful daughter is twenty-one
and we are having a party. You have opened
far too many bottles of wine, I have bought
the wrong flavour of crisps. Her tearaway years
are over. She’s a woman now, there’s no denying it.
Soon she’ll be a wife, maybe a mother but always
she will be ours. She has your hair, my legs,
our sense of humour. She loves the sea,
like a mermaid on a warm rock,
she loves Keats. I read it to her in the cradle
because no lullaby would pacify her.
She loves log fires, badgers at nightfall.
She is in love, you can see it in her eyes,
she cannot hide it but then, we didn’t raise her
to deceive, she has that innocence that, if you breathe,
the bloom is gone. But she does not breathe,
never did. She did not happen. She is only
a fairy under a hedge, the first snowdrop.
Carole Bromley lives in York where she is the stanza rep and runs poetry surgeries. Winner of the 2019 Hamish Canham Award, her most recent publication is a pamphlet, Sodium 136, about the experience of brain surgery. https://