The Saturday Poem: Nollaig na mBan

A new poem by Moya Roddy

 Moya Roddy

Moya Roddy

 

Wise Men came bearing gifts,
guided by a star so bright it lit up
the Heavens; big as the star
that blazed in our hallway announcing –
Christmas is coming!
Christmas is coming!
Christmas is coming,
the goose is getting fat –

I longed for a goose but we always
got a turkey – a twenty pounder
from out the country;
my father carrying it aloft,
hunter-gatherer for a day.

The bird hung in the scullery, pale,
featherless, until my mother
set about cleaning it, spreading
newspaper on the table,
humming while she worked.
Sometimes she’d pause: treat us
to Adeste Fideles, The First Noel
the house falling quiet as our
ordinary mammy – hands sticky
with innards – sang like a star.

Women out West reared turkeys,
used the cash to buy a few hours freedom
on Nollaig na mBan. Where we lived
it was the Feast of the Epiphany: the day
decorations came down. Once the Magi
had visited, every wisp of tinsel, coloured bauble,
each magic fairy light vanished –
home returning to a drab normality,
parents to mere mortals.

My mother never sang on Nollaig na mBan
– stayed mum – the star was the last thing
she took down, folded to size, put away.

Moya Roddy is a novelist and screenwriter