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Monday, 27 January 2020


I kept losing the children. The windows
had been blown inwards in tiny, piercing grains,
some of which lodged in the back of my
throat. The children were complaining: some
were coughing on the pieces of glass; others
were running round as though in some
kind of drugged-up stupor. I didn't
want to shout at the children, but I
had to. "Walk! Don't run! Hold
on to the edges!" But I kept losing them.
My own mother was laughing, as though to say
"I never lost you
when you were a child."

I was conscious of several eyes and several
smiling, mocking sets of lips. Each
child that fell over the edge and landed
broken at the bottom of the fire-escape
felt like one of their victories. I had
to get angry at the children; it was
for their own good. "I said WALK!
Hold on to the EDGES!" Some
of them listened. Most didn't.

I realised that some of the eyes and lips
watching me belonged to school
inspectors, who became more and more
gleeful with every child that I lost. Oops!
There goes another one, that's one black mark.
And he raised his voice unnecessarily, that's two.
I had to grab them to keep them away
from the edge, but I could feel the inspectors
smirking at this: here he goes
touching the children now! More and more
children kept falling.
Some of the good little girls
listened to me, and got scared as my shouting
became more and more pained. "I SAID FUCKING WALK!
of the children laughed. Some even jumped
off the edge voluntarily. Everything was metal.
The sky was pink.

Later on a man with a face made of sand
told me that this
is what Jesus had to go through.

(originally published in Under The Radar (Nine Arches Press, 2009)