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April 2018, vol 14 no 1

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Claire Everett


and so I taught them
to make men out of snowflakes
and castles from sand
but not how to leave their mark
on this dewdrop world . . .

In no time at all, I am there. Back in their childhood home. It's one spring, or another, before the lilacs were felled. The four of them are in the garden, oblivious to the purity and the brevity of that fragrance. Or the stippling of petals in their hair. Or the click of the gate and this shadow that has come to play with theirs.

The then youngest, who not so long ago was filled with pride that her tongue could roll around purple – such that she said it, over and over, with more than a little purr – is scooping a drift of it into a dumper truck for one of her brothers to dispatch who knows where. Her sister, laying out the miniature tea set, calls out in her Barbie's voice, "Don't be late!" Action Men are deployed on stones and between the tulips, shirt sleeves strategically rolled to reveal their just-painted tattoos.

Here and now, red is the colour of favourite crayons, dragons and gore; it says nothing about bank balances or bureaucratic tape. The only deadline is a four o'clock tête-à-tête over cold lilac tea. Meanwhile, platinum-haired Cindy is the latest mission commander: she boasts a new crew-cut, gets to wear the oversized boiler suit and drives the zebra-stripe jeep. In this green and pleasant land of some other April, there is no such thing as a gender pay gap. And the old hero, one-legged Cobbs, is nursed around the clock on his island paradise in the sandpit.

from the bridge
the swirls and eddies
of days past . . .
leaves the colour of spume
chasing swallows' ghosts

Author's Note: This piece was inspired by recent artwork by the graffiti artist Banksy. Coincidentally, the youngest child of the four in the story is currently studying at Hull university.