The Spirits of Christmas

The Spirits of Christmas

The village lies snug beneath the snow
Streetlights guide folk to and fro
Anticipation hangs in the frosty air
A Christmas tree sparkles in the town square
Wide-eyed children, excitement in their eyes
Look up to search the cold night skies

Fires burn warmly in log-piled grates
Fine wine in glasses, rich food on plates;
Over it all, a haze of goodwill and cheer
As people mark the time of year
Beyond the reach of light and lamp
Where the trees stand, bare and damp

Where the frozen ground is clean;
Where no footprints can be seen
To mar the perfect white of snow;
Where the living rarely go
Stands an ancient church, left to rot
With an old, old graveyard, half forgot

As children lie, impatient, in their beds
So, too, do the ancient dead
When those children dare to peep,
So do the dead stir in their sleep
When those children close their eyes
Those sorrowful spirits start to rise

Up from the depths of the tomb
Up from the earth’s dark, doleful womb
Towards the town they turn their gaze,
Though mere echoes of their living days;
Some drift slowly to the old lych-gate
Bemoaning their departed state

Yet others, refusing to believe
That they are dead, though none still grieve
Take to the air, join the swirling snow
With the flakes, a-drifting go
Until they reach the town, a-slumber;
Set out to mix among their number

In a house a candle flickers; fades
Something moves behind the shades;
Though the fire’s lit, there’s a sudden chill
Something rattles upon the sill
There’s a strange creak upon the stairs;
The cat looks up and, silent, stares
Though there’s nothing to be seen;
Except a new shadow, where none had been

At the inn, the glasses on the shelves
Shudder and move all by themselves
The door is suddenly thrown wide;
Though a gentle wind blows outside
The people there laugh, deny their fear
Though they know there’s something near;

As if to mock their willing ignorance
Along their spines, cold fingers dance
In the empty dance hall, footsteps, light,
Trace an unseen waltz in the silent night
Spectral figures whirl and spin in time
To a tune that’s soundless and sublime;

The piano’s played by a ghostly hand
To the accompaniment of an old jazz band
But the stage is bare, the lights are out
The door is locked; no one’s about
The snow falls harder, coats the ground
Mutes the world, reduces sound

Where it begins to hold and stick
The snow soon becomes deep and thick;
The hours wear on, Eve becomes Day
Those questing spirits must be on their way
So with mournful sighs and moans, they lurch
Their dismal way back to the church

Blaming the wind, people turn in their beds
Wandering spirits banished from their heads

The silent cemetery waits, resigned
For the questing spirits again to find;
To seek out, once more, their resting place
Succumb to the hard earth’s chill embrace
Until there’s only a church; left to rot
And an old, old graveyard, half forgot

S P Oldham

About the author

97 Up Votes
I am happily married with two grown up sons. I live in the Sirhowy Valley in South Wales. For health reasons I am no longer able to work. I am an independent author of dark, supernatural and horror fiction and under the pseudonym Lillian White I also write romance with an historical flavour. Unfortunately, my writing doesn't come close to earning me a living! But it is something I enjoy. I also enjoy taking photographs of nature, reading, swimming when I am able, being with my Cocker Spaniel Milo, family and friends.

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