On the hearth of the working fireplace,
the flags dusted with ash,
we leave mince pies and a bottle of beer
that Father Christmas might feed his face
and wet his whistle while he is here,
refreshment before he has to dash,
having deposited the mystery
of wrapped packages a further time
in his series of deceptive appearances,
the continuing collusion, what you see
and what you get, and how they rhyme
with the evidence of disappearances:
the empty bottle a child lifts from the grate;
the mince pies missing from a crumb-specked plate.
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