One Hundred Percent
by Gaynor Kane
One hundred percent polyester,
keep away from naked flame,
the label I had never read said.
Frost and fairy lights glistened.
Just as the weatherman predicted
it was cold enough for snow, Mum silenced
the wireless, I switched the TV set on
to catch the end of Swap Shop.
Don’t stand too close to the fire
was a warning heard often
on winter weekends, it went
in one ear and out the other,
slippered feet on stone hearth
feeling the glow, looking across our street,
the sky rested on rooftops, heavy,
full of a solstice harvest, hanging.
I was drowning in heat like a Christmas
pudding drenched in brandy. Then heard
a sizzle and a crunch, felt fire
licking my hair, hugging my back.
Before being engulfed by fear
and flames, she threw me on the floor,
rolled me up in the mat,
brandysnapped. Smoke smothered.
Christmas morning clouds bright and empty;
a dressing gown as white as snow,
neatly folded, ribbon bowed and labelled
one hundred percent brushed cotton.