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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 Everything. Vicky It dawned on me that this place, Victoria Park, Vicky, 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, naturally 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 For respite. 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. A mother A home Even a reflection of myself She changes as I change The seasons come and go but somehow we still remain Ourselves. I aim to have enough charm to keep people coming back like she does She is one thing And everything A place 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.

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