The rain falls:
Humour and laughter are frail flowers,
generous with their scent – easy to destroy;
If I feel sad – I draw upon the hours
and remember the flowers’ scented joy;
I hide my face in the petals’ favours,
but carry, in my heart, the sad small boy.
A car sprays water from the road,
raindrops glittering in the streetlamps.
A figure trots, furtive and wary,
Mr Brock enjoying a pre-prandial stroll,
glides silently into the churchyard.
Limestone colonised by green lichen;
watery flowers bloom on the stones,
and blossoms trickle into the mosses;
it rumbles down the guttering
and drip-dribbles: Ker-plunking
twenty-feet into the old zinc bath tub;
while Mr Brock trots into the night,
betrayed by a vague flash of white.
The rain falls:
Carollers in overcoats with battery lanterns
do not see Mr Brock as they cross paths;
happy voices hidden in the music of water
and careless feet which scuff against stone
as they walk to through the churchyard.
They approach the little Saxon church
and the door opens – releasing yellow light
which is swallowed by the void night –
allowing them to pass inside to the ‘Welcoming Rite’.
A barn owl crouches in the bell loft,
not one whit to woo the sight:
a field mouse scuttles from stone-
to-stone, safe within the waters’ might.
The church clock reaches mid-night, a pause –
and the hour bell starts to ring,
timing its strike to twelve, and breaking,
stroke-by-stroke, the heart-felt-silent-waiting.
As the last stroke lands: echoes barely dead…
The other bells are released from sleep
and peal out: “Christmas!” “Christmas!”
“Its Christmas!” “Its Christmas Day!”
The porch door opens and welcomes all,
seats fill and bells call:
hot breath meets cold air and steams,
each chair supports a little spiral of mist.
Mr Brock goes home:
The chorus whispers in the background;
a small man, young for his calling,
climbs into the pulpit and starts to speak:
“My dear friends, welcome and thank you.
Today is the Festival of Christ,
of Jesus, our Lord’s Birth Day.
As I look out from this rostrum,
I can see you all, huddled together,
as the sheep of God that you are:
sharing this house of God,
sharing this cold air, and that rain,
sharing our warmth and goodness.
Later today we will share gifts,
and party and feast and drink toasts;
but remember: this is our Lord’s Day,
when we should share our love
with each other, with God, and with Jesus.”
Mr Brock sleeps at home.