So young to be orphaned. No breath, pulse,

twitch, hint of life; Reaper’s property in a hospital purse.

Sculpted by wind, she crawled on all fours

through waste grounds, white goods discount stores

that promised Heaven, eternal life cycles;

the dull procession of Saints, angels, disciples.


            She left the fossils, swam, ran, fell

between patients' beds, childless couples. Her own ghost,

green on decaying apples. Relatives she never knew

stroked her mother’s head, making false promises

which led to sharp intakes of breath, air-blown kisses,

prayers and candles and somebody’s wishes.


A window is opened, so attention blows outside.

Rusting buses rattle, squabble, as a rabble pile

into the school, wearing hideous lemon blazers.

Screams, laughter, scribbled jotters

begin to sing, merge, first graders' enthusiasm

creating a painful, sonic forge.


                        Round the back, in the long grass,

between the supermarket and the rail tracks,

an old sports bag empties out swabs, the works,

a spoon, and Horse. This is the last act of a lost cause,

stripped to the waist,

                        veins poised –


until nobody’s child enters somebody’s child

and presents clear thought, new voice, choice.

Stephen Watt is a Glaswegian writer who became Poetry Slam Champion in the Poetry Rivals Competition (Peterborough, 2011). He is also the author of the poetry collection Spit (2012).

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