The village choir sings out of tune,

the ancient curé’s sermon

the one he must use every year

aimed at the awkward children


whose parents push them to the front

to crowd around the crèche

where one of them’s now tasked to put

the infant who’d unleash


the centuries in which these stones

would house the hopes and fears

of generations who’d accept

his legacy’s frontiers


as they’d accept this valley as

an all-containing world

in which the story of their lives

would day-by-day unfurl.


Now most of us are only here

for the skiing – if we believe

in anything, it’s not the tale

which goes with Christmas Eve


and yet, we’ve felt the need to come

where a thousand years of prayer

gave meaning to the spans of those

whose limits we compare


to our wider, deeper knowledge of

every question mark

which leaves us both enlightened and

forever in the dark


but wondering for a few hours if

tonight’s simplicity

has somehow blessed us, even in

our proud uncertainty.

Published in Snakeskin 257, January 2019