The field sparkles with Jack Frost.
You say it’s snowing
and I haven’t the heart to tell you
it’s not, not yet anyway.
Of course you can’t remember
the last time you saw real snow,
you were only a few months old.
I held you up to the window
and said, ‘See that white stuff,
they’re called snowflakes.’
You started laughing,
a real proper little laugh
at all that reflected brilliance.

Yesterday I tried to cure your hiccups
with peek a boo surprises.
Distracting you with visions
of imaginary butterflies
then shouting to make you jump.
You liked this game so much,
you wanted to try it on me,
to see if you could make
my boo boo disappear.

I seemed so startled
by your enormous roar,
you were confident it had worked
and insisted on checking.
Your voice suddenly small
as you said, ‘No, it’s still there.’
Mastectomy scar sadly
not frightened away
by your best jungle lion.

Still I tickle you as I tell you
maybe we can make a snowman
for Christmas, a magic one that talks,
and all our faith in miracles
is completely restored

Within Four Weeks


We walk into the magic land
of steam engines
and Father Christmas
sat in the corner
of an old fashioned carriage
with doors that slide shut.
Not the Orient Express perhaps
but there are sword balloons
and stickers and Thomas the Tank Engine
puffing home as the light fades.

Two little boys who believe
In the power of reindeer,
the whistle of The Fat Controller,
the wonder of time travel
as the world rolls by the window.
The chocolate countdown to Christmas.

The gynaecologist asks me
how high my pain threshold is.
Another little lump. Another biopsy.
Another probably benign,
probably nothing,
but my faith in probably
has been profoundly shaken.

I no longer believe
when they open me up,
it will be all silver ribbons
and the crinkle of wrapping paper.
I worry that I’m not on the right list,
that they don’t know where I live,
that my letter has been lost.

Then I remember you saying
you’d take me to the North Pole
and we’d drink hot chocolate all the way.
I need to hold on to that kind of magic
when the rational arguments
of surgical options
threaten to shine brighter
than the silver tinsel
of what you’ve diagnosed
as the best Christmas tree ever.

What Were You Scared Of As A Child?


My mother barely let me watch television
and then only educational stuff like Sesame Street
that couldn’t possibly damage my young mind.
As a result, I had waking nightmares
that Cookie Monster was climbing out
of the TV set shouting ‘Cookies, Cookies’
and trying to shove me into the blue furriness
of his open mouth with the crumbs falling out.
The thought of those crumbs still makes me
feel slightly queasy. Fear is what we make of it.

When you were little, your mother pulled
the cushions off your eyes because
she was determined to demonstrate
that you were being ridiculous and there was
nothing remotely creepy about ET.
Everybody’s favourite Extra Terrestrial.
By twenty two, you completely agreed with her
and sat down to watch it again thinking
it was about time you got over this.
But the moment the ball rolled into the bushes,
you broke out in…

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