X The play of the breeze brings the music of childhood, The tinkle of laughter as light and as clear As were our voices when singing in Wildwood The day before Christmas—the best time of year. The songs that we sang told of sleigh bells a-jingling, Snow-laden branches, and manger with child; A reindeer named Rudolph, with red nose a-tingling From temperatures colder than our climate mild. Although we were strangers to reindeer and mangers, And sunscreen on noses was all that we knew Of summertime whiteness, apart from the brightness Of clouds in a sea of cerulean blue, We sang with conviction, in vowel-perfect diction, Extolling His birth, which we knew to be true. Each chorister, following annual tradition, Wore swimmers beneath formal trousers and robes. But though the townsfolk knew our layered condition, The height of our folly resisted all probes. For when the last notes faded into the distance, We packed up our songbooks, with danger in mind; To head to the river, whose lilting insistence Had drawn us to waters—the treacherous kind. Before you could say Silent Night, or King Wenceslas, We divested the vestments of choral attire: On bordering fences, positions defenceless From flurries of dust, and the rust stain of wire. From cliffs high enough to see mountaintops showing, We leapt to the ribbon of silver below, Until our resistance to hunger pangs growing Drifted away like a leaf in the flow. Boastful, bedraggled, still dripping, we straggled Back home after donning our gear for the way; Dismissive of bruising, self-confidence oozing— Outdoing each other in swagger and sway. And these are the scenes that my memory’s bringing Whenever December the twenty-fourth nears: The pleasure of touching the skies with our singing, Delighting in danger, and brushing off fears. X X David Watt is a writer from Canberra, the “Bush Capital” of Australia. He has contributed regularly to Collections of Poetry and Prose by Robin Barratt. When not working for IP (Intellectual Property) Australia, he finds time to appreciate the intrinsic beauty of traditional rhyming poetry.