On the Fourth Day of Christmas we bring you Alwyn Marriage, Megan Pattie and Jenny Hill

Sensing the stable

New-born eyes don’t focus for a while,
but warmed by the breath of animals
and the love of a young girl,
the baby gradually became aware
of a cow that woke him when she lowed,
a donkey nibbling straw, the breeze
whispering through the door to ruffle his hair,
clouds of sparkling dust that made him cough,
the fragile peace pierced as anobium punctatum
punctured the wooden feeding trough
that was serving as a cradle.

He smelled the stable’s bitter pungency,
laced with the sweet scent of hay;
heard scratchy rustles as a mouse
dragged a husk of corn across the rough
stone floor, warm mumbles of a dove
shifting her feathers in the rafters.
He felt straw prickle on his skin, tasted
the sweet milk of a mother’s love, cried
for the lost Eden of her womb; then chuckled
at the donkey’s bray and cockerel’s fanfare,
the chuntering of chickens, two butterflies
that fluttered by and the ant that tickled his toes.



Alwyn Marriage’s latest two books were published in 2017: a novel, Rapeseed, and a poetry collection about mediaeval women, In the Image. She’s widely published in print and on-line, gives readings all over the world and is Managing Editor of Oversteps Books



The Innkeeper

I watched them into the barn
thinking, at least I had not turned them away
wholly. I heard nothing as he was born.
I was blind to the star’s rays
that brought the kings gift-laden.
No angel came to bid me prepare
for the babe born to a mother-maiden,
so I had no room to spare.
But as I watched from my window
the perfect scene arranged as if by rule,
I knew that this is just how these things go,
and every story must have a fool.


Megan Pattie lives on the North East coast of England. She was a Foyle Young Poet in 2009, and her work has appeared in several online and print publications, including Snakeskin and The Emma Press Anthology of the Sea.




after Rembrandt’s ‘Adoration of the Shepherds’

Time has its own pulse in the pastures,
where he can dovetail into the hush,
allow the night to swallow him
into her expanding rooms.

He has lost count of the births he has seen
under the passionless stare of the moon;
he has no fear of the smell of blood,
the slime, the seething afterbirth.

But here in this stable, he finds himself shy
as the light of this child’s nakedness
draws the darknesses out of him like stillbirths,
and re-animates them as light.



Jenny Hill was first published in the Netherlands in 2003.  2016 saw her first full collection Voices of the First World War, (Available at Amazon) which raises funds for Help for Heroes.  Jenny has appeared in Orbis & Strix journals, and is a recent winner of The Poetry Society’s members’ competition.

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