An English Christmas

It is almost dusk;
horses are led in from pasture,
over frosty grass and down the rutted icy lane.
Lights come on in the stalls,
providing a faint warm light in each,
the cold moon riding over all.

We all work; every one of us in the cold,
fingers stiff in unravelling gloves
as we stuff haynets, haul water,
carry skips of manure and sodden straw.
Unlike Southern California barns,
there is no army of quiet Mexican boys
named Juan or Miguel who work so hard,
disappearing when the immigration man comes.

We work in darkness, in cold and wet,
but the radio is playing and there is laughter
in the old Victorian brick stableyard
which has seen many generations of horses.
There have been many, many Christmas cards
exchanged, warm wishes for the season,
horses bedecked in reindeer horns and tinsel.

Each one of us would not choose
to be somewhere else; this is what brings us joy.
Working in a frosty English winter,
amid plumes of equine breath
and the sweet smell of hay from our own pastures,
hay we all worked together to bring in last summer.

Finally, I feel like Christmas.

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