monday verse: derelict


Christmas is a place
I speed through now,
a crumbling downtown
celebrated only as
Once Upon a Time
before the founding fathers
ran for the suburbs
leaving us nothing but plaster
figurines, a fake beard,

ruins of safety and
certainty, of a day when
the ritual unwrapping
of presents could seem a prophecy
of what our lives would be.

from Derelict by John Tanner

I suppose that Christmas inevitably becomes less magical as you grow older, and each passing year distances you a little further from your childhood. I want to feel the same way about Christmas now as I did then, but I don’t think that’s possible, so whilst I still enjoy this time of year, it is always tinged with melancholy.

Maybe that’s why I now find the sight of a giant inflatable santa looming over the top of Manchester Town Hall sinister rather than enchanting. Or maybe it really is just sinister?

This poem, which I think captures my feelings, is from a collection called Pieces by John Tanner, who also happens to be my brother-in-law. It’s rooted in the language and landscapes of his Welsh childhood, and I urge you to seek out a copy.

My husband has been writing about his memories of Christmas over on his blog. He has some of his mother’s notebooks and ‘to do’ lists from the 1960s, and judging by these, Christmas in Cwmbran, South Wales was meticulously prepared for, and lavishly celebrated.




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