‘Come and see,’ my sister says, and leads
the hand-held walk, from yard to cellar door.
Green paint curls from wood in sharp petals,
the rusted latch too high for me but she can reach,
to clank and rattle. Hinges grumble, door swings
to stone steps and treacle-black.
‘Just wait,’ she says.
My eyes are wide, stretching, seeking light;
my nose reads green water and strange herbs,
I hear faint pops and splashes. Gradually,
my eyes begin to see; moss climbs, in soft drifts,
dark water throws a dance of light around the walls.
‘See!’ she says and points. My sister smiles;
Uncertain, I gaze at small frogs
scrabbling to escape our bright noise.
Quivering, alone, in the school doorway,
in that thin frock, hand-me-down, outgrown,
my bare shins blossomed in bruises,
I see them hiding, by the gate,
waiting for me.
Outside, the green blazes and hums,
dandelion seeds speckle the breeze and the sun-hot air
is sharp with buttercups.
Then, soft, a sudden darkening
blunts the day. Javelins of rain
spear down, sputtering on dry earth.
My tormenters shriek and flee and I wonder,
‘Did it rain for me?’
It stops and I step, out into the sparkle, to the top of the hill,
where trees crowd the lane, like gossips. There, on the puddled track,
a hundred frogs twitch and jitter across my path,
gifting their joy, like a sister’s blessing.