Tall, white-haired in her widows weeds,
My Nana took me, balaclavad from the cold,
To where stalls shimmered in a splash of gold,
Buttery light from wind-twitched lamps, and heaps
Of Christmas hoards, were stacked above my child’s eyes,
A shrill cascade of tinsel piled high
On the boards in a wave of shivering colours.
The moon grinned in his sky, I stamped the icy
Foot packed earth. I smelt the roasted spicy nuts,
Drank syrupy sarsaparilla in thick glasses far
Too hot to hold and chewed a liquorice root
That turned into a soggy yellow brush. The man
Who wound the barrel organ let me turn the handle
Just like my nanna’s mangle and I jangled out a tune,
And Lily of Laguna spangled in the still night air
To go on spinning through the turning years.
Then we walked home, I clutching a bright tin car
With half men painted on the windows, chewed a sweet
And held her hand as she warmed mine,
One glove lost turning the whirling music.
And I looked up at the circus of the stars
That spread across the city and our street,
Coated now with a Christmas cake layer of frost;
And nobody under all those stars I thought
Was half of a half of a half of a half as happy as me.
Originally published in “The Singing Street.”