The Crunch Underfoot

Tools of far light, coils of burning pomade. Last Christmas I gave you my heart. And if I had to live it over again, I would live it over again.

Life flowered but the tree outside died, again, for the winter. The sky grey, the light white. Somewhere through the frost, I could, almost, I could, your face.

Shoes are the tread they crimp into the packed level of snow. They are the walk from this end here to that end there. Do your children climb on to your shoes?

Christmas losers. You can have your Christmas, losers, you can have it all. I am, I mean, the king of mince pies, the lord of stuffed pudding and crows.

Those are not the things I meant, not the things I mean. If I shift in my chair on cold winter nights I shift to stay warm. Despite appearances, I fear the cold.

I am the best wrestle between you and the burn of hot figgy pudding. Shiny sixpences fill my pockets. And there’s the rub: the weight of old Christmas.

Old Christmas was a sketch on the back of a candle maker’s photograph. In the foreground the delicate cherubim. Just behind, the howl of red reindeer.

Here comes Saint Nick. Jolly and wise, he is both a gift to the ancient ritual of Festimas and the stone cold killer of it. Look how his sleigh tips from the weight.

Most crackers come with a toy of some kind, a novelty, a joke, a hat. These crackers here, they come with love. Love is all they have to give.

The kiss beneath the mistletoe: curiously non-sexual. No shaking off of the snow, no re-igniting the embers. Nothing at all that could be taken like brandy.

Throughout the pages and running through five staves, the build up to Christmas eve. You knew well how it ended. The secret was in the telling.

Socks on our hands, coats in the driers. The black of the corners, two: a chip shop and a haberdashery. The warmth of the coats: one minute’s pleasure for 50p.

Groans pushed past and the elves fell. A shopping trolley here, in the heart of the grotto. To his credit, he said he wouldn’t fill it up, never.

The same thing every year, pressed and hung at the back of the cupboard. She’s been dead eight years now. She would have liked him like this, at this time of year.

At this time of year it is always worth remembering those less fortunate. The old soldiers, the orphans, the meek. A shiny sixpence and you can be on your way.

Innocence is still the cry as he flies. As he sprinkles stardust and snowflakes, circled by the moon. But if the house is on fire where will he land?

Noted, the lean towards magic, the fall into faith. The doors are open wider and longer at this time of year, it is true. We have to let them in, we have to let them out.

He kicked his mother and she kicked her husband and the whole room fell into a spin. Let the games commence! they cried. They already have! somebody replied.

Tinsel and Gretel behind breadcrumbs and pebbles, somewhere in the forest. Will Christmas ever reach them out there? Will Christmas ever find them?

Stay with me this year while I get through the season. Stay with me while I undress, while I redress. Stay with me until this time next year.

The open floodgates were no longer a barrier to the run of the snow. Liquid snow, liquid ice. That consumed our front door steps, lifted our locks.

No more whiteness it blinds my grey eyes. In the dark, through the back, I press my face into the warmth of the oven. Eyebrows for the new year.

On the sea they see visions of God, of Jesus, of Santa Claus. The more able-bodied among them ice the deck and slide. All the way into the season.

Lost Christmas and she’s still there, I reckon, somewhere on the mantelpiece. We imagine her as a long-lost gift. Just waiting to return home.


About Paul Saxton

More information about Paul Saxton here: Follow me on Twitter: @paulsaxton
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