The Toy Shop


The shop is no longer there

The tiny toy shop, a converted sitting room in her house

Long demolished with the street

In a wave of progress.

It was where I learned my manners, my moralitiés

In all the traditions of a 15th century Perrault tale,

A Red-riding-hood fantasy

That warns not to stray from the known path

I, being the child I was, found it hard to do that.


Christmas in my grand-aunt’s shop was magic

An Aladdin’s cave of Santas and sleighs and candy canes

All rolled up into one,

Victorian mid-terrace residence

Tinsel and lights, the scent of cinnamon and pine

colourful garlands, and baubles,

The taste of pudding,

Jangling, jingle bells . . .


Two ornamental snow bears guarded the threshold

To the rooms beyond where I strayed,

A little Tinkerbell

In my own warm, fuzzy, fairyland that day

Until I heard her shrill voice call,

Chasing down the narrow hall

To tell me not to touch a thing,

Break it and,

She’d make my father pay.


Yet on I roamed from room to room

And wandered here and there

But as I went the air grew chill

I can recall that feeling still

My feet and hands icy . . . numb,

But I could hear unseen angels sing

And a little drummer drum.


On, on I went and turned a key

into a room,

So pristine,

As if not one living thing

Had ventured there before.

I stopped wide-eyed and stared in awe

At a cabinet almost bare, except

Upon it stood a crystal ball,

gold studded,

From where the music filled the air,

That held me enchanted in its spell.

carolling the joy

Noel Nouvelet Noel


As if bewitched I reached to grasp the glittering sphere

To shake the snow, to watch it


And twirl

And fall,

To hold it to my ear

To listen

If I could hear the music play more clear

But my hands were trembling, freezing cold, and

I could not grasp the glistering globe


Shattering glass makes music all its own.

It chimes like a steeple bell . . .

And I swear I can hear it still.

Still see the snow fall, spill everywhere,

Still see the baby Jesus on an icy floor

Even as my father reached for his wallet,

Vain searching for the money that was not there to pay

Even as the music played on

Noel Nouvelet Noel chantons ici



2 thoughts on “The Toy Shop

  1. This is magical —the language, the images, the very layout –

    ‘As if bewitched I reached to grasp the glittering sphere

    To shake the snow, to watch it


    And twirl

    And fall,

    To hold it to my ear’

    Lovely work Eithne

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