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German Market

A poem describing a visit to the German-styled market in Birmingham, December 2010.

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German Market

The square is packed with coat-clad people
and newly soaked by ill-timed showers,
the market lights glow amber and hang
overhead with the hum of night flies.

Their toasted, rich colours sing to my soul
as sirens do, inviting me to forget
my burdens and beckoning me back
to kinder times (if such times existed)
when the only violence was when Dad
stoked the fire and the only labour
was the reluctant fetching of fuel.
The sitting room was soaked in smooth wood smoke
and the quietness - playfully probed
by crackling embers - was heavy.

But amongst the queue for mulled wine I am
jostled by a short, broad man whose bald head
peers out from a mole-hill of garments.
His gloved hands envelop a steaming mug
of sweetly spiced wine. What price was paid
for such a treasure? Around the edge
of the crowd the homeless creep, politely
requesting spare change or at least spare time
to hear their stories. Yet what can I give him?
The buck-tooth young man with the aging eyes
and the shrew-like nose. A couple of quid
is not nearly enough, his pleas are appeased,
but it’s a cheap gesture of love -
a parody of charity even. And

inside the food stall pork fat drips down flesh,
hissing in the flames. Light reflects
and shimmers in the sweat of the kuchenchef’s
brow as he competes to keep up
with the volley of orders. An over-
worked priest attending seasonal sacrifice.

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