Eugene O’Hare, CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY, 1985


that winter Ma got into her jeans.
she lay flat on the bed breathing in
forcing the button & hook to meet
while my tiny hands tugged
the Levis zip up at the same time.
Christmas Eve we rented a caravan
out by Tollymore forest. i saw
a brown deer walk over fallen branches
as if inspecting a bomb site; its head
low and serious like forensics
in a detective film with Kevin Costner
or one of those other actors my Ma liked.
we boiled lavender and lime to strip out
the damp smell. Ma said it was the smell
of the lotion Santa’s wife used on her hands
when they were sore from tying ribbons.
next day, the cooker broke before we got
the turkey in. and Ma’s friend never showed;
the guy from work who made her feel good.
so we ate chocolate for dinner and flung jelly beans
into the snow; the yellow ones that tasted like soap.
the button on Ma’s jeans popped off and we laughed.
i told her it would always be the best day of my life.

Eugene O’Hare was born in Ireland. His plays are published by Methuen. Recently his poetry has featured in The Irish News, Crossways, Fortnight, The Galway Review, and Razur Cuts. Eugene was shortlisted for the 2021 poetry prize at Belfast Book Festival. 

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