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.