Christmas Market
Mike Harding

Tall, White-haired in her widows black
My Nana took me, balaclavad from the cold,
To where stalls shimmered in a splash of gold,
Buttery light from wind-twitched lamps and all
The Christmas hoards, were heaped above my eyes,
A shrill cascade of tinsel set to fall
In a sea of shivering colours on the frosty
Foot packed earth. I smelt the roasted nuts,
drank syrupy sarsaparilla in thick glasses far
Too hot to hold and chewed a liquorice root
That turned into a soggy yellow brush. The man
Who wound the barrel organ let me turn
The handle and I jangled out a tune -
And 'Lily of Laguna' spangled out into the still night air
And would go on spinning through the turning years.

Then we walked home, I clutching a bright tin car
With half men painted on the windows, chewed a sweet
And held her hand as she warmed mine,
One glove lost turning the chattering music.
And I looked up at the circus of the stars
That spread across the city and our street
Coated now with a Christmas cake layer of frost
And nobody under the stars I thought
Was half of a half of a half as happy as me.

From "The Young Oxford Book Of Christmas Poems".  You will find more information about Mike Harding and his work if you take the following link:

Copyright Mike Harding.  All rights reserved. No part of this text may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of author.