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.