Nollaig na mBan

Moya Roddy

Moya Roddy

Wise Men came bearing gifts,

guided by a star so bright it lit up

the Heavens; big as the star

that blazed in our hallway announcing –

Christmas is coming!

Christmas is coming!

Christmas is coming,

the goose is getting fat –

I longed for a goose but we always

got a turkey – a twenty pounder

from out the country;

my father carrying it aloft,

hunter-gatherer for a day.

The bird hung in the scullery, pale,

featherless, until my mother

set about cleaning it, spreading

newspaper on the table,

humming while she worked.

Sometimes she’d pause: treat us

to Adeste Fideles, The First Noel –

the house falling quiet as our

ordinary mammy – hands sticky

with innards – sang like a star.

Women out West reared turkeys,

used the cash to buy a few hours freedom

on Nollaig na mBan. Where we lived

it was the Feast of the Epiphany: the day

decorations came down. Once the Magi

had visited, every wisp of tinsel, coloured bauble,

each magic fairy light vanished –

home returning to a drab normality,

parents to mere mortals.

My mother never sang on Nollaig na mBan

– stayed mum – the star was the last thing

she took down, folded to size, put away.

Moya Roddy 2017

The poem will be published in her debut collection Out of the Ordinary (Salmon Poetry ) which will be launched as part of the Cuirt Festival programme in 2018. She has been living in Galway for over 20 years and had read regularly in the city and county. Moya was shortlisted for the Hennessy Award 2017 and highly commended at the Patrick Kavanagh Awards 2016. Her work has appeared in the Irish Times, Stoney Thursday, Boyne Berries, Washing Windows Anthology, Arlen House; Windows Anthology - among others. Her novel The Long Way Home was described as “simply brilliant” in the Irish Times and her short story collection Other People was long-listed for the Frank O’Connor Award.

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