Kate Maxwell – Suburban Nativity

Kate Maxwell is a teacher and writer from Sydney. She’s been published and awarded in many Australian and International literary magazines.

Her first poetry anthology, Never Good at Maths (IP Press) was published in 2021, and her second anthology (Ginninderra Press) will be forthcoming in 2023.

Kate’s interests include film, wine, and sleeping. She can be found at https://kateswritingplace.com/

Suburban Nativity

Day stretches like the loose-smiled yawn
of Grandma’s panting pug scratching
haunches up against the lounge. I check

the clock for this day – half yearned, half
dreaded – to be done while we; such paper
hatted kings and queens, clink glass against

sibling stares, remembering only shattered
secrets, stolen toys, cruel pranks. In this baked
dinner dance of little snipes and grand gloats

we slippery slide into the squabbling pouts
and jealous clutch of childhood. Mum will
drain the dishes. I’ll just rinse them, she says

as I promise to heave myself from lounge
and help to steam and scrape the gravy sticky
plates and platters. But I wake with Mary’s heart

-glassed bubble bath pierced into my side
and find the washing up miraculously finished.
Later, we watch shiny Santa hat celebrities

commanding grins from cancer-eaten children,
and somewhere, stuffed between the crackers
and the candles, Jesus – not sworn from a stubbed

toe – is named and pictured in my niece’s mind
as yellow-crowned hero of the world.
                 Happy Birthday, Jesus, she whispers

to the rose-lipped idol on her card as she lines
her presents up beneath the tree in order
of determined worth: pink, pony, and plastic

at the front, all clothes, and books behind.
And I ache to feel her calm, uncluttered creed
if only for today.

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