After lunch she whispers
to the carved mahogany table legs
feels around for the mouse
cut into the back of the armchair
where her grandmother
reads paperback mysteries.
She names that mouse
Then she slides away
from the snoring chorus of adults
the ashtrays where
forgotten after-lunch smokes
still burn and drift
their bitter incense.
miniature black hills
are piled up in half-light –
against dusty walls –
here she hopes
for a long life
of blue flame
for each waiting
The pantry’s a cool sacristy
full of edible icons
a yeasty bread-tin
jam jars in shades
in plastic vats
with mustard stains
blessing the contents
of each greasy tub
and honeyed pot
ML Eyres is a UK poet living in the US. Recent poems can be found in Agenda, Portland Review, Roadrunner Review, The Poetry Bus, Algebra of Owls, The Write Launch, Cathexis Northwest Press and heard with @thesoundboutique on YouTube.
The Evolution of Christmas
Wigilia no. 1
Jezus malusieńki leży wśród stajenki. Five months old. We couldn’t go back home that night. Too much snow. My baby blue pram’s wheels shivered and refused toturn into skis. Cold.
Wigilia no. 5
Płacze z zimna, nie dała mu matula sukienki. Waiting for the first star. Breaking opłatek wafer with all relatives, careful not to eat it myself. Always karp amongst twelve dishes. Had to taste them all. Singing kolędy, aunts’ harmonies. This uncle or that dressed as Santa. Presents. Midnight mass. Frost.
Wigilia no. 12
Nie ma kolebeczki, ani poduszeczki. Score in front of me, but not looking, I forgot he Silent Night halfway through, my violin suddenly going silent, the night staring at me through the eyes of the crowd gathered in the church. Black ice.
Wigilia no. 17
We żłobie mu położyła sianka pod główeczki. All that food, that despicable karp! What is Santa actually called? Święty Mikołaj? Gwiazdor? Or perhaps Dziadek Mróz? Just let go of me, I don’t belong, I’ve forgotten how to be part. Snowdrifts.
Wigilia no. 29
Dashing through the snow. There is no Wigilia, really, in THIS country. Presents, impatient till Christmas Day. Christmas Day not being a night, too bright, too day- like, too full of turkey or goose, or other roast, or Queen’s speech. Overcast.
Wigilia no. 34
In a one horse open sleigh. I have never gone back home for Christmas since moving home. I have never gone back home for Christmas since coming here. I have never gone back home for Christmas since coming out. I keep missing it. I don’t belong to THIS Christmas, to Christmas and Boxing Day. Windy.
Wigilia no. 44
Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Christmas Eve dinner with pierogi and barszcz. Opłatek also. Half of the presents. The other half on the Christmas Day, in pyjamas, champagne, cigar. Christmas lunch: vegan roast and Queen’s speech. Sometimes Christmas tree. Warm.
Anna Blasiak is a poet and translator between Polish and English. Her bilingual collection Café by Wren’s St James-in-the-Fields, Lunchtime is out from Holland House Books. More at annablasiak.com.
Tasting the dark
As the tired sun sinks, neither day nor night, cusping winter
wrap up in cosiness, button snug, wear a Santa hat
Load your picnic basket
swaddle soft sourdough oven-warm in linen napkins
Tuck in flavours of home
salmon smoked slow, scented with bracken and moors
Fill those felt stockings, gold embroidered.
pop tangerines in toes, slip in lebkucken, chocolate coins
Settle in a time-carved hollow
ready to trap the buttter-bright moon in a mesh of branches
Listen to the moss sneak
as owls and foxes share this midwinter feast
Ask do stars taste
sweeter than shadows?
Finola Scott‘s poems are widely published in Alchemey Spoon, PB and Lighthouse. Red Squirrel Press publish her pamphlet Much left Unsaid. She is the Federation of Scotland’s Makar. More Poems can be read at fb Finola Scott Poems.