A Manila Christmas Carol

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Lechon roasting on an open fire,
spinning slowly over glowing coals
until glossy copper skin snaps and cracks like toffee,
promising juicy, fragrant flesh beneath.
The traffic churns, thick and smoky like molasses,
the klaxon call of urgent horns ring like sleigh bells through the humid air.
Fairy lights bewitch and beguile, in every colour of the rainbow,
draping trees like so much tinsel,
flashing stars dancing in the night to Christmas music.
Fireworks splash the sky in glorious, Hollywood technicolor,
the hollow thud and spit like a distant war zone.
Carols from a country where folk dress like eskimos
welcome a white Christmas to Manila,
decking malls with boughs of holly and eight tiny reindeer,
from choirs in butterfly sleeves
singing to the glory of God at the casino.
Boxes and ribbons and paper and scissors
create a mountain of endless surprises and joy to the world.
A front garden and a crib: Mary, Joseph, Jesus, Santa.
Airports overflowing as families gather from around the globe
sharing kisses, kin, fun and laughter,
while lost and lonely Olaf, dreaming of the winter’s rage and icy cold,
melts silently, sadly into the gentle warmth of a tropical Christmas.

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