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Open the Paper Window

Open the paper window –
there’s whisky, repatriated from duty-free.

A little ankle bracelet –
Mhairi where are you now?

A crouching platoon, months under the double bed,
a lick-down mine.

Open the paper window – snow! the only white Christmas –
four brothers – wool bales – piled low on the hurtling sledge.

Scaletrix. A red car, a green car –
they’re from my father to my father.
We were just intermediaries.

It seems repetitive to mention the train set,
but later you could hide hash in the papier-maché tunnel.

Open the window. It counts against me
I can remember not a single present my mother received.

Open the window – a bit of peace and quiet from you shower
or there’ll be no Christmas this year!

Open the window – a tangerine,
miraculous, the orange for learners.
A tall candle, E-type red, has melted the pewter candlestick.
There’s a brown-and-green black-and-white tv,
call it television please.

Bells and mirrors for a baby thirty-five years ago.
Bells and mirrors for a baby ten years ago.

Thomas Hardy, cheer us up!

Open the paper window –
Mum and Dad are going to Midnight Mass.
(You’re in trouble – you were seen enjoying yourself
at Midnight Mass.)

How does Father Christmas fill the stocking?
We stayed awake as long as we could!

Open the window –
glowing pastels.

Open the window –

Open the window.
Try not to electrocute yourself this time! They aren’t sweeties!

Black bags of exhausted wrapping.
She definitely said batteries included.

For the nineteenth time you’re not getting a gun
for bloody Christmas!

Open the window.
Too much brandy butter.

Open the window, the last paper window
(it’s quiet here, under the tree) –

the present: abstract, perfect,
waiting to be opened.

Because each stanza is about a completely different experience the form of this poem is ideal for group work: a class or book group could make their own poetry Advent Calendar in this way. The poem is taken from Greenfields, published by Carcanet.

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