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It's that time of year again. Here, as my Christmas greeting to everyone is a brand new poem about the strange places that I have spent some of my previous Christmasses. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or generic seasons greetings to one and all.


Ghosts of Christmas Past


I remember that Christmas day
When, squeezed around a table set up in a tent
High in the Himalaya
We ate “Christmas Cake” -
“Merry Kyismoss” in jam;
And roasted goat, the Christmas scent;
When we heard carols in an unfamiliar tongue
But to familiar tunes
Off-key renditions -
And yet charming -
Those voices raised in song.


I remember that Christmas day
When we left the guide who was telling his tales
And went into the rain
Where the children sang
In Cambulo village
Echoing down mountain trails;
Where we had just this afternoon made our way
Along rice field rims,
Through muddy fields,
Up steeper paths
To where the village lay.


I remember that Christmas day
When Cusco’s square was filled with stands and stalls
From cathedral steps
To bar-room doors
To alleys and arches
And ancient stones in newer walls;
Where we played backgammon on the balcony and drank beer
And watched Santuranticuy
Saints sold and bought
And Niño Manuelito
Blessing us at our festive cheer.





I remember that Christmas day
When, unbelievers both,- against our protests -
Seated In the front row
At the carol service -
The foreign friends;
The honoured guests.
With Chinese sermons intent - if not meaning - clear
And Over The Sea To Skye
Was the tune to one carol
And we were made to sing
But only knew Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer.


And I remember that Christmas day
When the children ran from Santa’s terrifying stance
With his bare legs
His white and slit-eyed mask
His decorated stick
His animalistic dance;
How they crept back between the hotel’s table rows
To receive their presents,
In trembling hands
From this apparition
In his unconventional pose.


And I remember best those Christmas days
When Dad had gone for a Christmas morning drink;
When Mom prepared our lunch -
Checked the turkey,
Boiled and baked potatoes,
Peeled sprouts above the sink;
When we moved the table to the centre of the room
Spread the table cloth,
Laid out the cutlery,
While all the while the TV
Dispelled the winter’s gloom.



(Bob Hale, December 2021)

This message has been edited. Last edited by: BobHale,


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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