Paths

Nan had to move
from her council house,
the one with the cinders
and ash path,
a piece of which
we always took,
briefly embedded,
flesh-framed in blood,
in one of our scrapes,
after a trip, or push,
up to her door;
the sibling way of boys
let loose from a car.

The menace of
the shadowed alley
took us, echoed,
to her patchy garden,
where her hind-sloped,
disagreeable Alsatian
marked out our pitch,
which was surrounded
by a notional fence,
being badly strung,
held thin in my fingers,
almost cheese-wire.
The washing line posts,
the only things planted,
stood a ball’s throw apart.

Nan moved from there
to her new flat,
without the dog –
it being ruled against.
No path, instead,
grip-rippled ramps,
up, then switchback,
up, then switchback,
past ‘No Ball Game’ signs,
around the stray dogs’
piss puddles;
here, no patchwork
of grass to absorb,
no forgiving cinders
to fall on,
only yards of child
breaking concrete.

 

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