The First Day of Christmas

The Expat and the Angel Come to Lunch

I had high hopes. I have prepared mutabel
and labneh, Arabic bread, salad leaves
from Saudi, fresh conversation. My English

neighbour shares her views on lazy maids,
her husband's job in small drill bits, the cost
of water, whisky, gardeners on the take,

manicures, pork scratchings, bikinis.
The hour is long. Windborne sand coats
the table, insinuates itself between our teeth.

It's getting hard to speak or chew. At last
she rises to her feet and clears her throat:
She’s a bit of a whizz she says finally,

blinking desert from her eyes, at crafts,
so, just in time for Christmas, here's a piece
of home. She hopes we can be friends.

When she's gone, I unwrap the gift:
a wooden spoon festooned with tinsel,
wire for wings, and bits of mop for hair.

Day after day, the muezzin's call fragments
across the wilderness of dust and cranes
and minarets. The angel moults her glitter

in the heat. I string her up inside the porch
where I can be sure my friend will see her
hanging mentalhealthupdate.com when she takes her morning run.



*Jacqueline Saphra has won several awards including first prize in the Ledbury Poetry Competition. Her pamphlet, Rock’n’Roll Mamma was published by Flarestack in 2008. Her first full collection, The Kitchen of Lovely Contraptions (flipped eye) was developed with the support of the Arts Council of England and nominated for the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2011.


Mary (& Me)  

No longer a Catholic, I abandon my search
for the nativity in Antwerp Cathedral –
we’re all virgins at birth. I cross the cobbles

to the chipped votives of the Kathedraal Bar
and consider Mary over a De Konicke.
One December, I’d played her in church,
 
clasped Jesus’ plastic head to my bosom;
he wept down my flat blue chest.
Incense clings to my leopard print fur.



*Katrina Naomi's first full collection 'The Girl with the Cactus Handshake' was shortlisted for the 2010 London New Poetry Award. Her most recent is 'Charlotte Bronte's Corset', published by the Bronte Society, after she was writer-in-residence at the Bronte Parsonage Museum. Katrina is from Margate and lives in south London.

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