One Christmas Eve
a day or two after
someone rammed a twenty-five ton lorry 
through the Berlin festive markets,
my German neighbour knocked at the door 
with a gift of lebkuchen

I think of her now  
at work in her kitchen
the mirror image of my own.
loading the table with sugar and flour,
butter, almonds, nutmeg and ginger
to conjure up the smells of home

 Twisting and pinching
the dough into delicate shapes,  
creating a sweetly spiced
Hansel and Gretel forest
of trees and stars
of hedgehogs, squirrels and mice,

 all carefully iced
with the unwritten message
that stuck to her lips
It's been a terrible year-
A terrible year.


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