Christmas Greetings from Montlucon

Les Courses des Fetes

The skittling, seasonal, south-west wind
swerves around the corner of the church.
It leaves the Christmas message
on branded cheek, nipped nose and pinched ear.

At the Tabac, an old Huguenot
spits out the ancient chestnut of belief;
that only a Catholic redeemer
could find virtue in a Winter birth.
The delicate demi-tasse,
clenched in a labouring fist,
dispenses miasma Arabica;
and sour satyr becomes smiling saint.

A short span of religious tolerance,
the passage twixt tabernacle and temple.
The Café du Commerce,
across the great divide.

Coffee-misted haloes pierce the veil,
allowing glimpses of the faithful;
where Gourmands recite
the complex pleasures of a simple feast.
The festive purchase is never displayed.
An Anglo-Saxon vulgarity: Bran tubs,
Secret Santa and Marks and Spencer's underwear.
French Fancies here are hidden under wraps.

Everything stops for coffee,
yes;and lunch,
and the occasional show
of workers' solidarity.
The happy mist of Café froth does not give ground
to the frenzied hunt for perfect Christmas.
Perfection is a daily given.
Moreover, it's the simple rhythm of life.