The trees at school talked to themselves
while I held firm and fierce at right back.
The dinner hall looked just like it smelt –
off white, peeling, corrugated like
the cardboard lining my grow-into shoes.
A queue of children holding chairs
two feet off the ground snaked past.
Then a sudden burning dragged me towards
a chant with two girls pulling hair at its centre.
When I got home, I stormed my sister’s room,
overturned chairs, tilted pictures, stamped on dolls
crowded on her quilt, to get even, get done.
The lawn beneath her window bit its tongue.
My mum said nothing. I still have the urge
to turn over a few tidy things and see who cares.
I recall it now as it will be then:
stillness suddenly present overhead
and the earth twitching madly beneath my feet,
a Thursday beaten with sticks and sickly sweet.
I will leave behind a half hummable tune,
and messages etched in the soles of my shoes.
Brickwork kicked into chunks by the gate
suggest what happened happened too late.
A Thursday when dark fades in before three,
still years from a breath of the weekend,
I will go, eyes open, not awash with pain,
but wanting them to wish I crop up again.
It will rain as they wake to how I’m not there,
as train-rattle piles through the evening air
that holds my silence and stills my tongue
as our garden fills and swells with its song.
(previously published in Magnetic North, New Writing North, 2005)
Mark Robinson lives with his family in the parish of Preston-on-Tees in Eaglescliffe. In 2010 he founded Thinking Practice, through which he writes, researches and works internationally with cultural organisations. Smokestack Books will publish How I Learned to Sing: New & Selected Poems in July 2013.