For my parents
You’re building another Christmas for one,
decorating the present with sparkly
lights & glitter, a long line of cards hung
over the mantelpiece, none from Barclay.
This is your grotto of the now, aflame
defiantly, yet still the old eyes mist
at each card opened, addressed to one name
only, Mima, white space replacing his.
He was the ghost of most Christmases past —
Marley in the corner, grumpy, moaning
how early it was, presents opened last,
rolling fags, drinking coffee, alone in
his own slowly wakening world, bagging
the paper; socks, chocs, hankies, baffies piled
beneath his chair, soon tired of trying, flagging,
giving into sleep for ‘just a wee while.’
I know he was happy in his own grudged
Ayrshire way, this being never more clear
than when he’d declared it over, had judged
‘That’ll be it by for anither year.’
Then suddenly it was, for all the years
after, that great, unbearable divide.
I see you in light, you who are still here,
ablaze in the ever-shortening nights.
Baffies – slippers (Scots)
Stuart A Paterson is a widely published and anthologised Scottish poet living in Galloway. Writing in English and his native Scots language, he’s a previous recipient of an EC Gregory Award and a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship. From 2017-18, he was BBC Scotland’s Poet-in-Residence.