Friday, February 19, 2010

Christmas Pageant

On the train your children fog
a sunlit window. They sway in
silence to a landscape not yet filled with
Fat Cat or Percy; your son dreaming
of Star Wars men, Yoda to appear.
We pass factories of ochre roofs, car yards
like gods of steel. Shops & cafés string
past in reminisce of tangy fish & garlic,
movie days of Thai food, coffee & cake.
Your son interrogates with blue eyes, his cool mouth
almost pouting, 'Are we there yet?'
At the parade, we are comfortable in second row
when a clown, red nose, striped suit, paces a single wheel
like children do back & forth in order to pee. Your daughter
studies the end of the street, talks up her dancing school,
the sequin castle, Santa & Rudolph without the team.
Children love mayhem & noise, even if the sun
burns, even if the wind nettles.
As a family you cannot crowd into minimal shade
threading its coolness over babies in prams,
toddlers shy of motorcycles & whistlestops.
You must drift into the rhythm of sun, the beat
of tambourines, bagpipe & sporran, a big pipe band.
It's infectious fun when marching girls parade
their unity of spangles, each lightly twirling a baton
like ropes of hair. We let go of each other,
fantails & bon-bons caught mid-air like awkward balls
from cricketers in the score of one.
'Where is Santa?' your children say. No sooner
Cadillacs appear, residents waving amoré. There's a netted
boudoir, courtiers, princesses in gold lamé,
a Christmas Queen clutching her sceptre.
In the final car, on his throne, acrobats in front,
the jolly man in red works his hands into canvas,
digs deep for the thrust of toys.
Parcels rain down into a crowd’s wave of hands
catching the day that is almost


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Helen Hagemann's first literary collection, Evangelyne & other poems, was published by the Australian Poetry Centre in their New Poets Series 2009. 'of Arc & Shadow' is her second full collection published by Sunline Press. She has two e-books, The Joyous Lake & Par écrit: poetry of the feminine @​​docs/joyous_lake/


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