The Friendship Tree

by A.F. Harrold

First stanza of the poem on banner artwork: snowy hilltops, with two deer standing to the right.
Artwork from the Christmas Tree banner in 2017, designed by Peter Austin

Across the North Sea, in ages past,
rode longships lit with fire-sprites.
The wooden gift they send us now’s
this Christmas tree of fairy-lights.

From forest-dark to bright-lit square
this tree has sailed across the sea –
a present sent for friendship’s sake,
from them to us, for you and me.

Sailing the friendship ship together
through hot or cold or stormy weather.

We gather below this giant tree
and link our hands with all our friends –
those stone-heart thawers, sadness busters,
whose warm shoulders know no ends.

When you fall they pull you up,
in deep water they’ll be your float,
these worry unwinders, at-your-siders,
laughing at your groaniest joke.

For we sail the friendship ship together
through fog and mist or stormy weather.

In tree-limbs, caught on finger-twigs,
shine friendship’s moments’ memories –
whispered secrets; bear hugs; hot dogs;
laughing over scabbed up knees –

they hang like baubles, decorations:
like stars these memories dance above.
As you’re passing add your own:
a thought about a friend you love.

For we sail the friendship ship together
through snow and sleet and stormy weather.
Through winter’s blast or summer’s sun
we’re strongest when we stand as one.

It’s me and you and you and me
linking our hands beneath this gift –
this fine and friendly Christmas tree
that’s sailed across the wide North Sea.