Tena koutou katoa. Nga mihi nui atawhai.
A Joy Cowley poem, December, for the Christmas season.
The machines shudder into silence
The last sheep slide down the chute
and staggers out of the shed,
giddy with sudden weight loss.
The shearers, glossed with sweat,
straighten their backs and nudge open
the lid of the chilly bin. They sit
with hands wrapped around cans,
sweet coldness against cracked fingers,
while outside a tui gargles the heat
and spits it out in two long clear notes.
The shed hand rolls a can across his brow,
and says, ‘It’s beginning to feel like Christmas.’
On the back lawn, near the potato patch,
the woman creaks the revolving line
as she unpegs clothes stiff with sunlight.
The smell of summer is mixed with noise,
pungent cicadas, loud brass marigolds,
and the grass beneath her bare feet
is as warm as cat’s fur. She looks
over her shoulder and reminds herself
to dig some new potatoes for tomorrow,
and she thinks with sudden pleasure,
It’s beginning to feel like Christmas.
The children and dog have been in the pool
but the dog in excitement, bit the plastic
and now the pool is collapsing,
pouring water over hot concrete.
The children run through the flood
making footprints that dry in seconds.
“Happy birthday to you,” they sing.
“Happy birthday, dear Jesus.”
Their grandad at the kitchen window,
remembers his own childhood.
He thinks of all the small footprints,
that have stamped the earth
since that little fellow in the stable,
and he smiles as he dries the dishes.
It sure feels like Christmas.
Wishing you all a very blessed Christmas and a relaxing summer break.