A Nativity ChurchGoing

Church, that woodworm-ridden comfort blanket
Of a place, the annual attempt to drag us chatting and giggling
Into the nineteenth century, all dry-rot and small, damp books.
Through graveyard under nightly siege from vandals,
Miss Pointer - ginger spinster, apt of name -
Suggests with muted boom to 'John' that now
Is not, perhaps, the time to hunt for infant graves.
We slush along, shuffling trees' deposits with our booted feet.

John, my oldest friend, like me an autumn leaf who should
Have stuck and stayed despite the winds of adolescence -
Sweeping shifts of childhood's sheer collapse -
Might now be lost in this supposed settled adult world,
He could be dead for all I know but then,
Then he was a king, like me.
Or were we wise men?  Bringing gifts two
From three, dressed up in sheets for a nativity.

Was I Melchior with gold, the gift
We could identify?  No, it was Caspar that I played,
the one who fetched Frankincense in  a pop-bottle
wrapped in tearing foil, the Cola label tackily displayed.
John trod on my robe and ripped the coloured decorations there,
The tissue rings and bands to show the gathered old folk
That this nascent thespian was no poxy shepherd.
We laughed and tried to trip the ludicrously named Balthazar,

Safe, knowing that no-one, not even Paul Reid, got told off this week.
So Gavin dropped his Myrrh, another bottle wrapped,
But hollow plastic bounced and echoed louder than we thought.
Stern, frustrated looks from Pointer made us stifle any mirthful
Sniggers so we went back into character and regally down the aisle.
The priest, I'd like to think was pissed, but nowadays the marriage
Of memory and malicious intent is never going to work -
So let's just stick to facts and say the old man smelled of cabbage.

And there I go again, revealing that it taught me nothing:
Yearly processions, yuletide thanks that leave me mocking.
So now when wisdom, peace and fellow-feeling make
Their call I'll sit and read a book, phone my dad, take
A bath with the wife, speak to the cat, watch Changing Rooms
For Christ's sake. So, were those annual revues a bit of fun
Or was there purpose more obscure?  Our last chance visit
To a serious house while questions gathered at the door.

Dave Evans

If you've any comments on this poem, Dave Evans would be pleased to hear from you.