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The power-cut candle’s wobbly precision
ushers the church hall back into vision.
We assembled them on a mess table:
first you gouged out a hollow in the middle,
then wound a crêpe strip around. Then four sticks
of raisins—the wealth of heaven, finger-pricks—
and the candle planted in its silver sock.
Tomorrow the flame would flick onto the wick,
and the cold of St Denys’ church tingle
in the black advance of the Christingle.

But before then there were limits to learn.
Don’t blind yourself with the light. Watch you don’t burn
the person in front. Don’t let any wax drip,
and most of all, make sure the band doesn’t slip—
imagine swallowing the orange with the pin,
the everlasting pain if that once got in.

On the way home, we ate the raisins, the best bit.
Everything else would end up in the bin,
a sour handful of peel and foil and flesh,
of wax and wood, slowly turning to mush,
thin streaks ribboning from the tasteless waste,
like mixed-up blood unfastened from a wrist.

—Iain Twiddy