My mother sang her babe to sleep,
firelight swaying on the ceiling, warm
shadows darkening a canopy of love.
Dismay propelled me to the window.
Outside, leaves were breaking green.
The front hedge held a nest
Nose pressed to pane, my breath fogged up the glass.
But then we moved, from here to there,
from one place to another. Journeys meant
distended hours in crowded trains
rattling through dim countryside
to strange locations, separate and haphazard.
But one day, we settled and the map of growing up
coalesced into coherence. The house we lived in
grew antennae; we knew the way to school,
to Grandma’s where we went to live when she was
taken ill and she and Grandpa needed to be cared for.
New trails were printed on our mental map.
Hesitant at first in unfamiliar terrain, we became
explorers, tiptoeing in the park, past the old fountain
dripping water and brass cups from shabby curlicues;
running through gardens, where two ancients
tended beds and beds of dahlias, bloody scarlet,
shocking orange, pale lurid eruptions of violence,
primly penned in dwarf hedges of box; while Grandpa
lingered, we rushed headlong to a wilder path
around the reservoir, its banks still blotched
with purple daisies and browning golden rod.
And so to the highest hill, where we could see
our neighbourhood bleeding into
the city down below, all the way
to the harbour and the sea.
The edge of a new world;
the road to the future.