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by Gaynor Kane 


You often tell me of the year I asked Santa, from March

to December, for a toy pram. A Silver Cross, with upholstery

the colour of night and wheels as bright as stars. How,

on my first school-day, a week before my fifth birthday

you pushed me in mine, past rows of Belfast brick terraces.

Into the Hollow where two streams join, in a grove of Elms,

to contribute to Con’s Water. Over O’Neill’s stone bridge,

built by the Chieftain’s men two hundred years ago.


I loved that pram but was a big boned child,

you didn’t have the heart to tell me to walk.

All along the route you listened to me rhyming,

whining, for a toy pram. I wouldn’t blame you

if, at the end of that journey, you had tipped

me out like concrete from a wheelbarrow.

Instead, you took on extra work, knelt for hours 

cleaning ashes and lighting Pensioner’s fires.


You tell me about the trip into town in ’75 to see

Santa, in the big Co-Op on York Street. I sat

on his red and white lap, like Paddington

in wellies and blue duffle. Whispered my wish

in his ear for all to hear. Santa was especially generous,

kept his promise and filled the Silver Cross

with a sleeping baby, dressed in pink with

rosy cheeks, when lifted she would open her eyes.


You tell me of your excitement; how you were eager

to see my reaction. I ran straight for the pram,

open mouth reflected in gleaming chrome. Then pens

the colour of the rainbow, and many shades in-between,

caught my attention. The present so longed-for

stayed stationary in front of the plastic tree.

When you tell me, I see disappointment and pain

in your eyes; I don’t think you’ve forgiven me.


Roles reversed; I nursed you after each operation,

especially when you received bionic knees. You lay

in bed, a good patient, and told me about

the year I ask for a Silver Cross. Each time

you tell me, I remember the day I discovered

Santa isn't real, I took much persuading. 

My world faltered. I can't believe you lied

to me and I don’t think I’ve ever forgiven you. 

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