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posted 15 Dec 2014, 01:37 by clive.fenn@oatforge.co.uk   [ updated 15 Dec 2014, 01:37 ]

from Christmas Eve

by Liz Berry


Tonight the Black Country is tinselled by sleet

falling on the little towns lit up in the darkness

like constellations – the Pigeon, the Collier –

and upon the shooting stars of boy racers

who comet through the streets in white Novas.

It’s blowing in drifts from the pit banks,

over the brown ribbon of the cut, over Beacon Hill,

through the lap loved chimneys of the factories.

Sleet is tumbling into the lap of the plastercast Mary

by the manger at St Jude’s, her face gorgeous and naïve

as the last Bilston carnival queen.

In the low-rise flats opposite the cemetery,

Mrs Showell is turning on her fibre optic tree

and unfolding her ticket for the rollover lottery

though we ay never ‘ad a bit o luck in ower lives

and upstairs in the box-rooms of a thousand semis

hearts are stuttering and minds are unravelling

like unfinished knitting.

But it’s coming down now, really coming

over the stands at the Molineux, over Billy Wright

kicking his dreams into the ring road

and in the dark behind the mechanics

the O’Feeney boy props his BMX against the lock-ups

and the children are saying one more minute, just one, Mom

and the old girls are watching someone die on a soap

and feeling every snow they’ve seen set in their bones.

It’s snowing on us all

and I think of you, Eloise, down there in your terrace,

feeding your baby or touching his hand to the snow

and although we can’t ever go back or be what we were

I can tell, honestly, I’d give up everything I’ve worked for

or thought I wanted in this life,

to be with you tonight.