Northwords Now

New writing, fresh from Scotland and the wider North
Sgrìobhadh ùr à Alba agus an Àird a Tuath

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Christmas Day 1903, Kirkcaldy

by Lydia Harris

Jimmy rolls a walnut and an orange,
the shop bell clangs, the minister pops by
for his short trim, for his moustache wax.

It’s Christmas but it’s a day.
On the High Street, the horse float clops.
The wives of Kirkcaldy

trail black skirts, carry baskets,
they aren't Christmas baskets.
The minister returns to the Manse.

The Provost polishes the lamp.
Christmas is starched and hungry.
Christmas knows she’s blundered.

Jimmy can’t crack the walnut.
He peels the skin from the orange,
offers the winking flesh to his mother

who is rubbing sheets clean, tending the set pot,
shouting, Be off with you
to no one in particular.

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