On the first day of Christmas my new love gave to me
a lift to the station, on oat milk skinny latte,
a text with smiley faces, and, as I seemed like
the kind of bird who wouldn’t mind, one bird – to mind –
for the night.

On the second day of Christmas my new love gave to me
two texted silly jokes, avian-themed, two strange close-up photos,
rather intimate, the items already itemised, and,
if she wasn’t causing any hassle, could his partridge
just hang out for a while
in my tree?

On the third day of Christmas my new love gave to me
three calls to arrange the evening,
three lukewarm Pinot Grigios, and so, as I was feeling
somewhat mellow, I said – the cat’s just ignoring her.
It’s ok, she can stay a bit longer, while you get yourself sorted,
a little longer
in my pear tree.

On the fourth day of Christmas my new love surprised me
with four tickets to the footie
with two of his mates, who bought me four cuppas
because I was freezing, and I just gave that smug bird
a frosty glare as I shivered past it on the doorstep.
P.S. Too cross to list
the other things.

On the fifth day of Christmas my not-quite-so-new love
turned up with a £5 box of chocolate truffles,
(I know as he’d left the ticket on). He’d spotted
my snuffles from the footie, and, to keep me company,
he said he’d leave Polly,
for the week.

On the sixth day of Christmas, what was my treat?
I remember it well. An all-you-can-eat-for-£16 Indian buffet,
(far too much to be honest), and six mints,
and an After Eight, and all of the items
I’ve told you before, but I couldn’t taste anything,
and that bird, that cheery bird, chirruping away,
she kept me awake
all night.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
seven minutes of passion – I could be wrong about timings –
at the end of Jools Holland, at least I think
that’s what it was, unless he’d lost the remote, or my Kleenex.
He passed out. The partridge was wide-eyed though,
staring at me.
Was too confused for lists.

On the eighth day of Christmas he brought me nothing,
except eight hours of insomnia. He seemed distinctly distant.
So what did I have to show for the other seven days,
just a cold that wouldn’t budge, and my role
as unpaid bird minder?

On the ninth day of Christmas my love brought me
nine carnations and an I’m sorry card and a £9 set
of undies from the M&S sale. I know – I was with him
when he paid, and yes they do very nearly fit. We agreed –
not a tweet about birds, or pear trees,
for the day.

On the tenth day of Christmas it was strange, all change,
ten words I didn’t know I’d hear – We don’t want
to rush things, let’s take it slowly. Somehow the bird
picked up the vibe, stayed quiet
for once.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, what happened? Right.
Eleven hours of worrying as I was late;
eleven minutes of coming to my senses as he was late;
eleven seconds of shouting, but it was too late. And that partridge,
well she was still here, but
she kept well out of it.

On the twelfth day of Christmas – twelve minutes of grieving
as I packed up his stuff. You’d be amazed
how much a man can spread around in twelve days
He took one load, said he’d be back for the rest,
but that was twelve hours ago,
and the partridge hasn’t gone…


Words: Simone Mansell Broome
Illustration: Cerys Susannah Rees