That was the winter the loch froze over
stealing reflections from the hills,
and laying its pale shawl on their shoulders.
Islands, feeling they were trapped,
huddled sullen in the cold as the wind
shaved the bracken of their skin.
But the postman skated that squeaking plain
sensing, beneath his blades,
The slow drift of sleeping powan,
bit icicles of breath from his moustache
hid red hands beneath his scarf and laughed
later about how he had walked on water.
No Christmas weather, no snow, no frost to save,
with its touch, tired grass from being mundane.
Only wind crying pagan hallelujahs
and rain’s soft morse against the windowpane.
No Christmas spirit: there’s far more of elves
than angels. There’s far more of Claus than Christ
and, like Amsterdam whores, trees displayed
in windows, overjewelled and brashly dressed.
Yet we have left our fires for this old church.
where rustling polythene screens off sick stone
and mean draughts tease and bend the candle flames,
to sing of bleak midwinters colder than this one,
to straddle midnight with our songs of Bethlehem
and change this small dimmed place from bland
to bright oasis of goodwill, where strangers
warm each other’s hearts with a proffered hand.
swagged lights catch the wind
and dance among green sprigs of fir
in the town square.
Inside the little house,
set where the buses rush by,
through a window misted by scratches,
the holy mother and father watch
over a child with small hands clenched
above the straw.
Three caped men
ignore the shepherds, lowly
among the cows and sheep, and
clutch their gold and oil, and their
It’s all muddled, now;
the beaded lights, angels, holly,
an old man in red and this child
who gave us the real Christmas
But beyond the greed there is
goodness; hidden within the crowds
is love and true faith.
The small child raises his tiny