Day 23: The Wise Man by Rachael Smart

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On the 23rd Day of Christmas Rachael Smart gave to me…

He was a wise man because he went to wet the baby’s head wearing a hessian sack smock, came home serious about calling him Jesus.

He was a wise man because he’d seen her ex-ex-ex in The Playwright and knocked the bold out of him in the pub quiz which confirmed his superior wisdom.

He was a wise man because he’d been pint to mouth and all he could smell was baby’s biscotti head, the blue of her milk, said he’d had to call off the Indian to jigger back, breathe them in.

He was a wise man because he showed her a brown dwarf in the Boxing night sky – too large to be called a planet, too small to be called a star – reckoned that was the source of their trouble with the naming.

He was a wise man because he said he could see the spit of her in the baby’s moon face.

He was a wise man for remembering the maternity pads.

He was a wise man for stamping the bins down, bumbling home with two pints of red.

He was wisest for building her a wine gum Jenga on the arm of the nursing chair, for leaving them to it, for trusting she could.

He was a wise man and the baby had his steel eyes but she’d have to be putting her foot down about Jesus.

Rachael Smart

Rachael Smart writes essays, short fiction and poetry. Recent work has been published in The Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology 2018 and Unthology 11. She is working on her first collection of short stories.

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