Christmas in Amiens
You were born on Christmas Eve,
Swaddled in a supermarket carryall
And laid to rest on the urban rubbish-tip.
That day your town
Had bats in the belfry
Where once hungry tramps were locked up
To ring for worship.
There, among gargoyles waiting
To sing with Spring rains,
They swung the iron tongues
Too heavy for body,
Summoning, far under their dancing feet,
Princes of State and Church
To kneel by the fatherless baby image Laid in straw.
Duty done, the priest filled their scrip.
Now the tramp, still bearing
The ancient name of “bellringer”,
Winters on refuse-heaps
Swinging the lead of memory
Or watching frozen gargoyles
On the Christmas dole.
One of them found you
Kicking blue under your first blanket
Of snow – it was the last straw –
And his tongue brought Midnight Mass-goers
Scrambling up the ice-solid
Disposables, plastics, rubble,
To kneel with him and you
Who seemed to have dropped
From the cold stars.
The ambulance took you to safety.
Your saviour retumed to the anonymity
Of a bellringer searching for refuse
While, on the distant cathedral,
Glaring at the heaven’s snow-job,
Gargoyles choked on ice
Waited for the sun to spew
The season from their mouths.