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THE DARK DAYS DOWN TO CHRISTMAS


It being that time...


THE DARK DAYS DOWN TO CHRISTMAS

The dark days down to Christmas paw

Like horses at an earthen floor

When all the ghosts of autumn pass away

And ragged squads of starlings fight

In firethorn trees in fading light

For orange berries brighter than the day


The dark days down to Christmas slip

As convicts from a prison ship

Down moonlit ropes and hawsers one by one

And past the quayside through the lanes

With winter dragging on their chains

Peer into windows, envious of the sun


The dark days down to Christmas creep

As wolves around a pen of sheep

When people turn their collars up and sigh

A convalescent crescent moon

Comes drifting out mid-afternoon

To bid an old arthritic year goodbye


And down the drain these dark days spin

As kindling wood and paraffin

And sacks of coal and logs are fed

Into a spider-haunted shed

The garden tools with cobweb tines

And skeins of string on withered vines

Are vestiges left hanging on

As evidence of summer gone


The dark days down to Christmas call

In echoes to a flag-stoned hall

Too early for the feast, they stay awhile

But each, an uninvited guest

Is dirty, cold and under-dressed

And slips away unmissed in single file


The dark days down to Christmas wait

Like cinders cricking in a grate

Before the fire is raked, re-set and lit

And cheerless in their unmade bed

Glow only very faintly red

But give no hint of heat in spite of it


And yet with each dark day complete

Lighter and brighter grows the street

As frantic in the pubs and shops

The work speeds up– for soon, it stops

And in a lull between the two

The last day, having much to do

Though up till now, no time for thought

Allows a warming glass of port


And having set an hour free

Before the lights go on for tea

As ingots of old sunlight pierce the gloom

A ghost parade of days appears

With paler days from other years

Who reminisce in whispers round the room


The last day down to Christmas ends

Excusing all his sullen friends

Who slave until December twenty-third

Cut mistletoe, deliver parcels

Light the cottages like castles

Scribble cards and hardly say a word


Then, having done their tasks they drift

As workers from a graveyard shift

The moment that each day has lost its light

Till wistfully, the last one goes

Ignites a candle, leaves a rose

And slips out softly to the frosty night.

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