Playground duty, for my sins.
I catch you clawing at soil, your small
fingers tasting the earth.
You hand me a stone
you found in the muck
and tell me to keep it
because it’s special
it will keep me safe.
I can’t remember the last time I received such a thoughtful gift.
I have always stared longingly at it
on wide open mornings
or endless Sundays, even after a hellish shift
or post-apocalyptic nap
Soaking in that pink and brooding scope
caring or warning,
forever hopeful of what’s to come
reassured that nothing before this really mattered.
When the moon is full, tortilla-round and brazen
I think of you
and the way you also loved
to stare at the sky.
There was this cat-
before I was exclusively a dog person.
He lived in the house next to my Nan’s,
and she said he only ever came into her garden
when I was there-
he sensed me.
I used an old hairbrush
to caress his fur and I
pushed him up and down the warm
concrete in my purple pram.
‘August 1994’ is written on the
back of the clearest photograph of us.
My dungarees are bold
and brazen roses-
his patterns are tangible through
my chubby little hands
both of us have pride on our small faces.
I wish I remembered him.
I am always here
the little girl smiled down
from the oak wardrobe
in his soft silhouette house.
Now pull the covers tighter
The parks are ours
No matter what the signs say
Though the crunch of the woodland
calls from far away
calls us to hunt, to gallop on through
fields, mud and marshes
double-sniff around of favourite lake too.
We pad the tarmac
plod the concrete
whether the sky is day-pink or dusk-black
we will walk together
and sometimes you’ll chat aloud to me
I’ll take in each warm word
even as I feel the oosh of the sea.
I’m a dalmatian in the park this morning
leaping with a grace I can feel
a toddler by midday, splashing
unashamedly into gleeful puddles
red wellies into small pools of sky
a bird by the afternoon
giving the impression I may take flight
as I perch wise on the wall and
stretch my feathers
a fish by the time the evening is here
paper-light and shining
pretending I am not gasping for air
but I’m gasping
because I know night is coming
And the pretence
Should really be over in time for bed.
I am the light between the naked branches.
You stare out at me for answers
but this is only a slow morning
not a requited prayer
You see the birds, benevolent
and we smile at their freedom.