Childhood stains it all,
blood that no amount of spit-wet tissue can rub out.
The playground grit against our knees,
the slap of rope on asphalt, skipping songs
coating the summer day. The walk-in cupboard where our toys
were kept, silverfish in its dusty corners.
That’s where I hid the card, the broken bits
of yellow-painted egg-box daffodils.
Crumbs like dried yolk stuffed in the Ludo box.
I’d missed school with the ‘flu’, so couldn’t finish it myself.
She’d stuck on the final leaves, filled in the last
few letters: OTHER’S DAY.
Glass animals on the windowsill
watched me as I tore the card to bits,
each wound a slice into her skin.
She’d ruined it, just as she soiled that Sunday
when she told them all I’d lied.
And all the while her alligator smile
tuned out their doubts.
As if a girl like her…
I felt her fingertips against the cardboard flowers,
her grinning brush-strokes on each painted edge.
Those old, sad days in which we played and wept.
For good or bad, they’re where we learned to be.
Until we die, they’re where our lives are kept.
Yorkshirewoman Louise Wilford is an English teacher and examiner. She has had around 50 poems and short stories published in magazines including Popshot, Pushing Out The Boat and Agenda, and has won or been shortlisted for several competitions. She is currently writing a children’s fantasy novel.