Photo: Liverpool Children's Christmas Party ca. 1927
A fringed lampshade hangs drunkenly above the gathering
like a flapper after too many gins. A ratty bearded
Father Christmas at the center of the display, primeval
like old Saint Nick, stepped straight from legend,
a child's toy drum on his knee, clutching a furry drumstick.
Under plunging Christmas garlands, the cross-legged
little kids with doughy Irish faces, white socks, sandals,
girls with bobbed hair, party hats, elastic under chin.
My uncle in school cap, shoulder to shoulder with two boys
with false hooters, another kid's caught picking nose.
A balloon floats up, casts a shadow on the floor.
The flushed-faced men at the sides like old retainers.
Are they pedophiles, adulterers, upstanding family
men, petty clerks, managers, justices of the peace?
The hefty women in the back corners, strings of pearls,
one eye on the children gathered in a pool below them.
Christopher T. George