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MIDNIGHT SERVICE, ST. MICHAELS CHURCH, BURTONWOOD, CHRISTMAS EVE, 1967 (JOHN TREVOR WILLIAMS) 

Here’s a congregation
a church full:

a mile or so
due south
on the airbase
the floodlights are ablaze
the old bombers are at rest
tonight
there is no weather
for which to search.
All safely returned
from dropping St. Nicholas’s post
on the geographic North Pole.

Here’s the church full
a stumble of inebriates
tucking in at the back,
crushing wet snow
into the purple carpet,
melting its smell
into the pious odour.
The radiators are at
full blast, the furnace
roaring its ill temper:
the church still
has frozen hands.

Here’s midnight
one last Dakota
drones overhead to touch
down on Christmas;
all stand
play that loud hymn
here we go
slowly, stately goes the aisle.
Tonight
I’m charged with carrying
the heavy brass cross.

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