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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. 

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