CHRISTMAS EVE 1996

by Luke Otley

Years ago I heard him-
I swear I heard him
I swear I heard the brass bells
dull and grey with cold
clank about their necks
up there

and I had proof-
years of half digested carrots,
cold quarter pints of milk,
soot about the grate
and crumbs from finished pies-

and listening with my eyes screwed tight
I’m sure
that beneath the bells
there was a world that raged-
that howled at shutters
and barked with glee
whenever blood split stone

and all adults knew the tune,
above all else my parents-
rising dead tired
with slightly anxious smiles
together on Christmas morn.