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Raised on sharp holly, fresh green branches,
red candles in windows to welcome
strangers, an orange at the end of her bed:
our mother finally allowed us a tree.
Foreign, prickly, tall and spruce, its smell
infused the house on Christmas Eve,
wobbled ‘til steadied in a bucket
we filled with stones. Wide-eyed, we watched
as we would an odd granduncle’s visit, until —
always the fixer,
with gathered coins
your six-year-old legs flew
to the shop before it closed,
with silver tinsel, a packet of balloons.
The air swells, colours — orange, yellow, purple, blue —
as six small chests rise, blow bellowed breath
through pursed lips; cheeks flush, red as robins’ breasts.
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