It happened when I struck a deal
with Rachel in the school-yard,
fair and square as the strange girl’s fringe
or hopscotch grid –
I walked and counted houses,
withered leaves scooped by my shoes
a kitten in my jacket.
Into the wood and past the trees
a tea-time mystery carried like a first-born −
scenting a route to creosote,
to my father’s shed –
odd and leaning and I told no one.
The wet and slime of late afternoon is fathoming
paving slabs or shiplap fencing –
it’s an oil-and-water girlish idea
to take a kitten home −
compare this to a smothered summer,
to grieving birdsong with blossom.
Nicola Bray lives in London with her partner, five sons and menagerie of cats and dogs. A graduate of the Royal Holloway Creative Writing MA, her work has appeared in various magazines.