‘Twas the night before Christmas… in the desert

by Lucrecia Rodriguez Acuna

by Lucy Strange

For all those who are far from home this Christmas, with heartfelt thanks and sincere apologies to the original festive poet, \

Clement Clarke Moore (1779 – 1863)

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the flat

Not a creature was stirring (except for the cat).

Two stockings were sitting beside a small tree,

And fairy lights glowed on the dark balcony.

The husband was snoring (a drop too much rum),

While festive indulgences danced in his tum.

And the cat on the duvet had made her night’s nest,

As we all snuggled down for a long winter’s rest.

When out on the road there arose such a clatter,

I leapt from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Expecting to see a vehicular smash…

The fingernail moon, like a smile in the sky,

Hung benignly above the confused passersby,

Who gazed in bewilderment, jaws hanging slack,

At a white bearded man with some gifts in a sack.

He was older than time, but without age’s flaws;

I knew straight away he must be Santa Claus.

His sleigh (which he sat in) was dusted with snow

And I heard his voice boom from the street down below –

“Now Dasher, now Dancer, now Prancer and Vixen,

Now Comet, now Cupid, now Donner and Blitzen –

We’re dreadfully lost, chaps – you took a wrong turn

And we’re stuck in the desert! I wish you would learn,

Dear Rudolph, to use that red nose that you have,

Instead of entrusting the wretched sat nav.

To the top of that tower! Past the top of the mall!

Now dash away, dash away, dash away all!”

As dust in a sandstorm will flurry and fly

And, lifting quite weightlessly, take to the sky,

So up to my roof-top the reindeer they flew,

With the sleigh full of presents and Santa Claus too.

And then I imagined I heard on the roof,

The clump of a boot and the stamp of a hoof;

Air conditioning systems were battered and bent

As Santa Claus squeezed down and popped through the vent.

He was dressed all in red, as the stories had told,

And he looked a tad warm – he was dressed for the cold:

His black, fur lined boots came right up to his knees

(Not fitting attire when it’s thirty degrees).

But his eyes danced with laughter, cheeks dimpled with fun,

And he took out two presents – his work had begun.

He walked on his tiptoes towards our small tree,

And, turning around, waved at me, silently.

His eyebrows and beard were as white as the snow;

His smile twinkled between them – his face all aglow

With joy at the pleasure his presents would bring

– And his presence too! (It’s a homophone thing.)

He puffed on a pipe as he gazed at our tree

And picked up the stockings – for hubby and me.

He stuffed in the presents and smiled to himself,

Then took a mince pie from the plate on the shelf –

Mince pies left to show that I did still believe

(Though I’m past thirty four on this dark Christmas Eve).

He took a large bite, smiled, and patted his belly,

Which wobbled a bit, like a cranberry jelly.

He winked at me twice, as he munched, standing there,

And he winked at the cat (who hid under a chair).

He said not a word, simply twinkled at me,

And fixed a dead bulb on the lights on the tree.

He smiled at his work on this unscheduled stop,

And vanished once more through the vent with a pop.

Air conditioning pipes gave a rattle and clang –

He appeared on the roof – to his sleigh Santa sprang!

The reindeer rose up as he asked them to fly;

The sleigh burned like a star in the dark, desert sky,

And I heard him exclaim, ‘ere they flew very far,

“Merry Christmas, ye faithful, wherever you are!”

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