It was written in my best joined-up writing;
on a page torn out of my homework copy.
I don’t believe.
A Santa hat dotted the i before the e.
I left it, like a wish, under your pillow.
My confession flitted round your face the next day.
It twinkled in the creases of your eyes;
in the smirk that twitched at your lips;
a brightness in your “Good morning.”
Later, when the others lay slack with sleep
I crept downstairs. “A special big girl treat.”
I felt shy and unsure of my place
in this late night, grown-up space.
Dad cracked a joke I didn’t get. You
laughed loosely, your stockinged feet
folded into the corner of the sofa
that we had fought over hours before.
Later still, when I was milk-drunk,
Dad lifted me as if I were nothing.
I heard distant sleigh bells ringing,
the last lick and crack of the fire.
Through a half-blinking eye
I saw presents under the tree,
a plate of crumbs,
an empty glass
that felt like magic.
Anna-Marie Maher is a poet and musician living in Waterford. She placed 2nd in this year’s Waterford Poetry Prize and was long-listed for the Colm Tóibín International Short Story Award. She has also been published on HeadStuff. Her work explores themes of people and place, and is often rooted in childhood experience. She is working towards her first collection.