MAG Poetry Competition 2011 – 2nd Prize Winner
under a heavy sky, grey like something coming.
Bedraggled as orphans, rain soaked through our T-bars
and itched at the cuffs of our coats. You led us on,
filled our pockets with coppers and our mouths
with gold coins, candy floss, a cuddly toy for me,
a goldfish won for my sister, flashing orange
and exotic against the grey.
That was the day you said you were going away.
Ranged us on a bench like a jury, spread
the evidence of your dreams before us like brochures,
sounded the syllables of your new home – Aus-tray-lee-ah –
made it sound like a fantasy for the four of us.
Even stuttered at the edges of what love is,
what grown-ups have to do... Panicking,
you conjured up kangaroos and in that moment
were not the sharp-shooter, goldfish winner,
but a man fumbling over his escape clauses,
hand fluttering to the pink spot on your crown
as the little ones asked how many sleeps til we got there
and would we have suitcases like Paddington bear.
I knew. Knew about one-way tickets, knew at the first that
this was us – pier, sea, grey, sky – and from now
something else was you. Tasting the salt toffee in my mouth,
looking up, seeing a seagull swoop and soar to somewhere else.