this autumn morning, the same, almost so, as several in childhood,
spent trying not to watch the bowl of oats and milk cooling on the sill.
“waiting,” he told me, “is a patient game.”
watching vapours reach for the ceiling.
“the ancient greeks made shields from porridge. or was it the polynesians?”
he said this in nineteen sixty something while reeving towelling through a loop,
bowling down the stairs for breakfast,
palming handmade bannister and cupping my chin.
i’m breathing into this mug: ripples proving something – about skin or patience or kin
– i wonder, would he have said polynesians?
but i cannot ask.
collecting the bowl from the window ledge.
am i surprised to see that the morning’s now misty?
a mister, i don’t know him, climbs a ladder, wipes the window,
reveals a memory…
i am small again, but bigger than the heinkel that i build.
fingernail swastika decals.
and an early fascination with paint and form and glue.
i am small again, but bigger than the dam i build.
dartmoor stream or amazon.
developed deep-rooted feel for gravity. say, möhne, eder, sorpe.
i am small again, cavalry charge across battlefields.
plywood sabre, lance and shield.
work the shaft and flights through the wound like clint.
i am small again, count the steps to and from school again.
five thousand two hundred three.
skipping pavement cracks, marbles on a drain. to bake or to soak conkers?
i am an adult, possibly so,
stood at a hospital bed, stupidly so.
not much to say anyway.
you are small again, impossibly so.
we’ve probably passed on the stair.
waiting is a patient game.
or was it the polynesians?