I can hear your short, sharp intake of breath.
You wince, step gingerly onto the moss, dark
December green, peeled with care from the graveyard wall.
It must feel cold on your sandaled feet,
wet too, after all the rain these past few months.
You emerged from the cardboard box, shook off
dry, flaky creases of torn tissue, grey
and yellowing now, like ancient skin.
You’ve been hibernating here almost a year,
since I wrapped you up on Twelfth Night.
‘Why must we always stand on this?’ you ask.
‘It’s too green, too soft, too moist.
Where we come from the earth is hard, Hebrew, brown.’
My children agree with you. ‘Mum’, they joke,
‘I think you’ll find there is no moss in the Holy Land.’
I can’t help it. My mother did it like this,
hers too. And you, travelling time,
a century steeped in Celtic climes,
handled by dozens of cold little hands,
you should be used to our northern ways by now.
I make you comfy; fresh straw from a neighbours’ farm,
robust bark walls. Even a fire, tiny twigs and logs,
‘real’ smoke, from the teased, stretched wool of a sheep,
to warm your hands, talk in old familiar
Aramaic tongues, when we are all asleep.
The children spray-painted a willow star gold
to match your caskets and turbans and robes.
And the dear old camels, their necks taped up
in three places, must surely prefer
moss to rock, on chipped, arthritic knees.
You should recognise the water colour
on the wall behind; hung specially for you;
the Via Dolorosa, in the Old Quarter of Jerusalem,
painted by my great grandfather
as his wife haggled for you.
Don’t get too misty-eyed.
I just wanted the honey-coloured stone
and the hot blue sky
to warm you.
To make you feel at home
Merry Christmas and all good wishes for 2017
To everyone at Mungrisdale Writers, may you all have a wonderful time over the festivities. I’m looking forward very much to catching up with you again come February.
Happy writing till then! Much love, Kit xxx