For Wendy, Uche, and Walter
T’was the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not an insect was stirring, bedbug or louse;
Our stockings were hung in the bathroom with care,
Because our new washer was under repair.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
Where visions of doom pranced though their heads.
Mamma in her hair shirt, and I in burlap,
Well, we were trying so hard to adapt,
When down in the laundry arose such a clatter,
She demanded that I attend to the matter.
So, into the basement, I fell like a flash
Of sheet lightning, with a whopping great crash.
I rose from the floor, exceedingly slow,
First rubbing my head, then portions below.
Well, what in the washer should now appear?
A face full of bubbles, a frothy false beard.
He looked a bit English, pale, eccentric.
He held a pen, which he tapped with a “Click”
Against his porthole. “Help, in God’s name!”
Since Christmas round here is always the same
I was glad to help. He had been fixing
The washer all morning, when he got mixed in
With the wash: a turnip, a turtle, grandmother’s shawl,
Two socks from Argyll, and a flabby football.
Around and around, I watched our friend fly,
First greener, then redder, like his striped tie.
I tried to think clearly what I should do.
I was happy I found a pencil to chew.
I watched him revolve and worked out a proof
That proved quite useless. Far too aloof.
For, soon the great clatter gave way to a sound,
I’d call a great sucking. I jumped with a bound
Across to the washer, where I banged my foot
Against a big toolbox. Wearing no boot,
I shouted and stumbled, I fell on my back,
Banging my head on the stairs with a THWACK!
Around me stars twinkled; Saturn made merry:
He fluttered, and dipped, and danced like a fairy.
But what of our friend? Where did our friend go?
He’s here. He is spinning, with chattering teeth,
With the socks from Argyll, in a dark wreath,
Whirling around the washer’s big belly.
He is covered in turnip and some kind of jelly.
I think that is turtle. I’m not sure myself.
I am mostly vegan. Although I eat elf.
Now, by and by, with a bump on my head,
I crawled to the washer and, calmly, I said,
“Never fear, friend. Now, let’s get to work.”
But I could do nothing, until, with a jerk,
The washer stopped spinning. Then, there arose
A mess worse than turtles and turnips and clothes.
The laundry was done, as clean as a whistle.
No sign of our friend, no bubbles, no bristle.
But I fancy he said, as he was sucked out of sight—
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”