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Claire Hughes: a poem

Do They Know

After a rendition of Do They Know

It’s Christmas, a third mince pie and one last

Quality Street, I make the children rest;

wrap them in their nests and let them dream

of sleigh bells and snow.

They do not know that I will sit

by the frost bitten window and pray

for the pearls to fall,

so that they can uncurl

on a White Christmas.

They do not know

that when none show I will scrape

the ice lace from the glass

and try to pass it off as dust

from Old Nick's boots.

They cannot then deduce

that it is then reused and sewn

onto the bones of our tinsel;

that it hides the wrinkles in our old

paper chains and powders over the meagre

feast that comes courtesy of the food bank.

They will not know to thank

the neighbours for the second hand

gifts under the tree, or for the three

stockings above the fireplace.

They do know that there's a face

missing, a space that no amount of lace

can conceal. Pearls cannot pay for the time

they need to heal, but for one day, I hope,

they can escape what's real.

Claire Hughes is a Birmingham-born writer who now lives in Staffordshire. She recently achieved her MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and was published in Oxford Brookes' anthology My teeth don't chew on shrapnel.


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