Smoothing flat a large sheet we plan to trace
your world, annotating and illustrating,
scrunching up, fraying edges, and ageing
in stewed tea before sanding the surface to scratch
a lost map of treasures. Beginning with home
we plot outwards, realising your domain:
the sweet shop, park, Brownies, friends’ houses, as far
as the eye – school nudging the paper’s edge.
A life contained. Here we rolled you to sleep
beside walls you’d soon be held on calling out to lambs;
here you first triked, biked, sledged, tumbled and fell.
Your cries echoing across this range. That now,
you populate with trees in leaf, daisies, snowdrops,
blackberries, lambs, and dogs off lead: your days
all seasons in one. Where we follow paths lain
continuously, each walking our own.
Criss-crossing dashed lines, other days, other lives,
past molehills, grass-flattened trails. Above us,
swifts swerve by where high winds and summer scents
cross this hand-poised space, each leaving some impression,
however fleeting, as when you’re here, but not.
The distant playtimes carrying over fields
to where we’d stand unseen, upwind, awhile,
watching the deer return home, your hand in mine,
the bats flying knowingly about our heads.
Bounding forward, you make your way, out of frame
chasing something, only you will find.
Leaving me trailing – until I catch
you, waiting, expertly tightrope walking –
arms out – balancing on the cattle-grid.
Map was originally published in Reach 2020