Christmas Poem by Angela Topping

And Bob’s Your Uncle



No he’s not! Not quick either.

Like Jesus, comes at Christmas.

Not a knee to climb on,

nor cheek to kiss: he’s Mr Alty,

someone to thank for the hard

jigsaw or glossy book

with pages stiff enough

to cut a thumb. Above my head

a table set with turkey salad,

mince pies, piled and sugar-dusted,

and, iced in secret, gaudy cake.



Remember Mother dotting with cherries,

sprinkling hundreds and thousands,

beckoning to whisper ‘Go

and talk to Bob.’? Not Mr Alty anymore,

though he’s the same bewildered man,

who had been altered, dazed for life:

A hand grenade blew up in his face

obliterating all his dreams; his fiancee

married someone else. It was easier

to talk to him before I knew. His eyes

struggle behind spectacles that never

bring a sharpening. I search for words

to show I’m here, but can’t begin.



Last night we drove through darkening streets

of a home town left behind ten years ago.

I saw his uncertain figure listening for

a gap in traffic, turning this way and that.


But it’s too late now … those Christmas teas

when he’d bring round his home-made wine

have yielded to bleaker rituals.

Chastened by losses of my own, I know

no words of mine could waken more

than his tongue-tying ‘yes, mmm.’



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