St Nikolaas

Credit: RvT 1625, via Pixabay

Tomorrow will be his birthday. Traditionally, children were allowed to put a shoe (with a carrot for the horse) by the fire on the night of the 5th. Over time, it has become tradition to celebrate the evening of the 5th. And over time, children put out their shoe earlier and earlier …

Somewhere in a photo album there is a small black-and-white picture, somewhere in a box in storage. Here is the poem, anyway, from my debut collection Another life, Oversteps Books Ltd, 2016.

St Nikolaas, 5 December 1957

We’re crowded in our dining room.
Grandmother has closed her face.
There’s me in pyjamas, smiling.
I’m next to my father’s father.
His heart will give out soon.
I’ve just been given a book:
animal stories with illustrations.

My brother too smiles, because
our mother isn’t there.
She may be in the kitchen
or upstairs, ill, thinking
about walking out on us.
My father has taken this photo.
He too will have closed his face.

1 thought on “St Nikolaas

  1. John Looker

    That’s quite some poem Fokkina! At first sight it promises nostalgia, a warm glow, contentment … and then all that is taken away. It’s powerfully moving … and heart wrenching.

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s