| 19.1°C Dublin

Greetings to a Child in the first light of morning by Leo Cullen

I lit the light in the kitchen and filled the kettle and opened the back door.

There was a jabber of startled birds from the bird table.

In the murk of the cypress tree the magpies were hallooing loudly;

It was as if an exciting thing started during the night was still happening.

A half-moon stood above the house like a dog trained to stand on its hind legs.

The roof of the shed gleamed with confetti frost fallen during the night.

Not a car was out on the road.

A chocolate Santa Claus stared at me from across the table,

His eyes close together, his hands on his tummy, me making tea,

And wondering about my sixty seven Christmases up to this one,

And what outer scrapes and inner sores I might have borne or inflicted on previous ones -

What green-holly grievances with Santa because of disappointing presents?

Such as when I didn't get the gun and was told it was the fault of old Anthony Eden

And the Suez Blockade and Egypt and not of poor Santa Claus,

Or later when, donning Santa's gown for my own children and tiptoeing up the stairs,

The following morning's routed expectations were theirs.

Now, the clock hums and I look at a sideboard of photos taken by my wife

Of our children where this year also there's a photo of a grand-daughter,

Where the first bus on the road outside has windows of gold, frankincense and myrrh

Where I've become Santa's Dada,

Where Santa like me in my time has sleighed off to Hawaii,

Where yet dark in the garden the birds once again sing: "Messiah!"

Sunday Independent