A Christmas Speech


I remember the rubble and the buckled metal
after the military bands above us at night,
my head in my mother’s arm, and dreaming
my father back, with a small box in his hands.

Daylight spread over the bread queues,
farmers fattened their prices. At the end, nags
lay ripped in the streets. Trains were arriving
with stories from the East. One Christmas later,

my mother still hauling stones, he returned,
insignia gone, with a small box in his hands.
From the blizzards and drifts he’d taken a slow,
overbooked goods car. At the shifted border

a railway guard had screeched the door open,
yelled “Live goods”! And later my father
would tell me he’d fed and watered the horses;
at least later it was said, with the tree in the corner,
gifts unwrapped, that he’d worked with the horses.


Yellow Wagtails