I came to you at Christmas when the frost had fixed the grass,
When they decorate department stores with balls of coloured glass,
When the Square is lit with silver shapes and sparkles green and red
And the trees are decked with fairy lights that flicker overhead,
When the shopper-laden buses hustle down Westover Road
And you wonder if that tea set will suffice for Mrs Spode;
When the speakers blare out ‘Jingles Bells’ off-key and very loud
And the bargain hunters muscle through the shoulder-crushing crowd;
When a lady limps and lurches under purchases too large
From a bright and shiny toyshop never known to undercharge,
When you fight for bulbs and batteries and each last-minute task,
For an electronic Christmas that is all that they could ask;
And I caught your eye and thought, for a moment, you might stop;
But the fever was upon you and your only thought was,”Shop!”
I came to you at Christmas down at number thirty-four
Where the reindeer and fat Santa quite irradiate the door,
Where the presents are piled high underneath the plastic tree
And the herald angels hark from a plasma screen TV,
Where there’s whisky overflowing and a Quality Street tin
And heaps of chocolate biscuits and buckets full of gin,
Where the parsnips and potatoes are roasting in the pan
And the turkey has been cooking since before the day began,
Where the cake from Marks and Spencers will be passed off as your own,
Just like the Christmas pudding – last year’s gift from Auntie Joan;
And it’s time to do the vegetables, the peas and beans and sprouts
And the microwavable mince pies at four or thereabouts.
And I caught your eye and thought, for a moment, you might look;
But the fever was upon you and your only thought was, “Cook!”
I came to you at Christmas; but not as a masquerade,
All safely wrapped in swaddling clothes and in a manger laid.
I was not at the rehearsals; I was sorting goats from sheep
For my gaze is universal and you know I never sleep.
In Zimbabwe I was hungry; in Romania I was cold,
In Malawi I was orphaned and in Darfur I was sold;
In other lands imprisoned; in other countries stoned;
The plain facts skated over or by other means condoned.
I was there in Boscombe Crescent sleeping on that slatted seat
I was scrabbling in the rubbish bin for something fresh to eat
I was with the young offenders down at Portland on the coast
Kept away from home and family at a time that matters most.
I was sick in the Macmillan and I almost caught your eye
But the fever was upon me and, of course, I came to die.