Emma Wells' poem ‘Relic’ is a sensory feast, which shows us Christmas from a surprising new perspective; yet it’s one which we can all relate to, after the events of the last few years.
Author's introduction: ‘Relic’ gives a voice to an angel on top of a Christmas tree. The poem is set during lockdown when theatres were closed at Christmas for pantomimes and performances of any kind.
by Emma Wells
My skirts crease under buried weight; I noiselessly click my heels in a ceaseless, restless boredom: Click. Click. Click. Show lights normally dazzle, I spin, tree-top proud awash in a hubbub of pantomime frenzy: excited children frothing over with shaken vivacity, like kinetic Coca-Cola; elders try to contain bubbles of rising hilarity, surface breaking… Pop. I watch, know I’m looked upon; my golden-crowned halo, invites stares and shouts of: “Look, Mummy, the tree!” as I bedeck and top its festive splendour; globular, bauble-worlds mirror beneath me, capturing snapshots: cheesy grins, clutched programmes, treasure troves of holy grail sweets. Pantomime dames regale with royal mimicry - they bow, curtsy as bejewelled puppets beneath my velvet throne. I snigger aloft – an aloofness buoys me. I’m marginally majestic, stroking my silken folds, fondling glimmering rhinestones, revelling in my own orbit! An apartness glimmers. I’m an untouched heaven. Suddenly, all is quiet. Silence pervades like a heavy-booted pantomime villain. I wasn’t lifted by hands. Darkness grew… extending itself like weaving ivy… The year I’m boxed: imprisoned in a cardboard jail. No light bedecks me. I lie forgotten — on untrodden attic boards. Timeless dusts makes noiseless sneezes: a reminder of past animation. My theatrical, tinny heart still beats, yet it is muffled; whispers below talk of contagion, viral swarms, coughs, splutters; I’m already socially distant like a loosened planet in cardboard city. Months pass before I’m seized by unknown, gripping yet excitable hands. I gaze upwards, longing for a sliver of rectangular light, dreaming of touching its heaven with an outstretched wingtip, angelic in its longing.
Emma is a mother and English teacher. She has poetry published with and by: The World’s Greatest Anthology, The League of Poets, The Lake, The Beckindale Poetry Journal, Dreich Magazine, Drunken Pen Writing, Porridge Magazine, Visual Verse, Littoral Magazine, The Pangolin Review, Derailleur Press, Giving Room Magazine, Chronogram and for the Ledbury Poetry Festival. She also has published a number of short stories and her first novel, Shelley’s Sisterhood, is due to be published shortly.
Cover image by Victor via Unsplash