The train clacked away from bills
and laundry detergent, leaving
you behind to nurse swollen yellow
livers, injecting morphine
and indigestible news.

It took me back to Barry, to stay
nestled neatly in Mam’s pinny pocket,
bought especially for the season,
the smell of gravy pushing
at the dogs’ noses.

It’s always a late one, Christmas Eve,
between losing the Sellotape
and draining our sherry, the last
drops swimming in the glass
like beads of blood.

We tangle ourselves up in scraps
of wrapping paper and furry
tape, cut ourselves on rogue scissors
and laugh about ‘that time’
a Christmas or two ago.

I peek out at darkness, thinking of you
in hard black shoes, antibacterial
gel drying your hands, then forget
your blistered feet and curl
myself into the sheets.

Morning comes with the thud
and crash of sisters sinking
the mattress, their toes dancing,
legs springing, eyes wide,
unblinking wonder.

Only after the traditional staircase
shimmy, we tumble together,
tripping and giggling, to see
if He has been, and for a day,
we are all children again.

Submitted to Bare Fiction