A piece of chalk

May is a strange month for me. It does that beautiful green trick each year and reminds me that new life’s here again. But, ever since I was a teenager, it has always brought memories of death too. And that collision of the two tends to make me stop and consider in a rather particular way. This year a new poem arrived. I do like writing in form sometimes – structure can be a comfort. This poem has something to say about that that, about frameworks and being held, and about walking on.

A piece of chalk

I lift it from the layer underneath
the greyish garden soil of my home town.
It’s pristine. White-stone purity I’ve found
a thousand times. A common border thief,
I wrap it in my palm. It’s a relief
to feel the damp, the softened, almost round
of creatures once alive and buoyant. Ground
down to a form that gives, that sheds its grief.
I stop. I sit and rub it on the path,
remembering the sunny hopscotch days.
A Brighton childhood when I knew the ways
to mark the route. A frame of slant-lined squares
to hold my feet. I sacrifice the chalk.
I render it to dust. I get up. Walk.

So, now we’re in June and I’m hoping for a good, hot summer and some more writing news. We shall see.


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