I remember well the stretch of his vest
as she pulled him towards her, across the school desk:
a little woman, with thin purple lips.
You are bad, she mouthed –
at six, he would have smelled her hot breath
and felt her spittle on his skin.
I remember then how miss told him:
You will never amount to anything.
Have you forgot the fairy child
its face a rose from Heaven
who danced upon your attic floor
with you when you were seven?
Have you forgot the world we made
from dust of fairy shoe?
I took you in with fairy ways –
you wondered what I knew.
Have you forgot your whispered wish
when you were shaped a child,
and I was something different?
the promises we smiled?
Another life undid our bond
and closed the door I made
betwixt the breath of butterflies
where fairy children played.
But in this altered time we live
I hold a space for you
and you’ll return in time, you will –
All fairy children do.
My memory is
a tailored suit black cuff button rolled
flipped and wedged between dusty wainscot and wooden floor.
It is four heavy old pennies balanced and stacked
beneath the leg of a lopsided make-do desk.
And then I may take the middle of a punched paper hole
scuffed and left by the soul of a Brogue.
In perpetuity it will bear faintest traces
of the stale scent of slim cigars
emanating from a plastic-lined basket-work bin.
It will not be wiped either
by its one string slither of a shedding mop.
There will be a sound too –
a sound insistent as a stylophone;
like the thrum of Anglia cars through thin windows.
And oh yes, its colours will always be orange –
orange and bottle green.