I was asked to name a place
To which I go when I feel sad
Nothing sprang to mind
Except for a place to which I go when I feel
It dawned on me that this place,
a green gem nestled between
the roads and the tower blocks and the commotion,
kind of has a piece of my heart.
Now this sounds almost laughable
I mean, It’s hardly the Peak District
But as the park has changed over the years
So have I,
We’ve changed – grown – together
Like a tree
Our roots inextricably linked,
Bound to the earth for a lifetime.
When I was small
Barely able to stand on my own two feet, literally
I took what felt like the biggest steps of my life
around the lake, gripping two large hands.
I sat at the top of the biggest slide
and catapulted down for a mere two seconds
into those same large hands.
These precious moments I can only summon
By leafing through photos
But it’s proof that my first taste of the outside
Was witnessed by none other than Vicky.
A mother, perhaps that’s what she is
I was contrived, moulded, rounded on her doorstep
And she raised me, she brought me up.
Childhood is like sunshine and that’s what I remember
First and foremost.
Running, screaming with delight through water
in my swimming costume
Being chased, hiding and getting lost in imaginary games
From small slides to big slides, zip-wires,
cartwheels, Screwballs, tennis balls, footballs
tree-climbing, spider-climbing, Dad-climbing
swinging and swinging higher than the rest
Wrong foot, bruises, sudden slips, tears
and probably the odd tantrum
Up and down I went
And nothing went amiss.
Like a mother, she welcomes me with open arms
Though I’m older and busier
I never fail to pay her visits.
It gets busy but she always leaves me room
Maybe she gives me advice, too
If she does I never hear it
Because I don’t but I wish I did speak via nature
Through the grass and the leaves and the wind that whistles
If I sat by the pagoda for long enough maybe
I could hear it
If I smelt every flower in her garden maybe
I could sense it
After all, she’s seen me at my worst and my best
Laughing in the sunshine
Talking for hours on end about life
Stealing kisses at fifteen
Dancing wildly at festivals
Mesmerised by fireworks
I once had a Union Jack on my cheek
and we picnicked, it was the 2012 Olympics
We sang Happy Birthday and the candles were blown out,
and again the next year
and again the next year
My friend’s daughter now sits in the swing
that I used to sit in
I cycle around and things have shifted
Like the prices in the yuppie café
The park is busier than ever before and although
I feel a weird sentiment towards those who
have only known Vicky for a fraction of their life,
The way she brings people together can hardly be ignored
Old, young, rich, poor, British or not
You see them all
And it baffles me how walking through the park
makes me feel as if everything is ok
Just for a while
People pass me by and there is an undeniable
Spring in their step
It’s hard to be angry when you’re greeted with a smile.
Even a reflection of myself
She changes as I change
The seasons come and go but somehow we still remain
I aim to have enough charm
to keep people coming back like she does
She is one thing
And a she
A single space
And a whole me.
I’m sure that in years to come
The large hands will be my hands
Gripping onto my daughter
As she takes tiny, giant steps around the lake
Knowing myself I’ll probably well up
(Because the little things really get me)
And I’ll know that I could never have asked for
A better place to be.