I climbed my childhood scrapheap,
finding footholds on old prams,
rusting bikes; reddened metal
that slid under my feet and hands.
My fingers stretched to scrape the sky,
head buoyed up with words I’d claimed
understood but couldn’t say
from all the books I’d hefted home.
The small town couldn’t hold me. I
was Alice in Wonderland, stuck
in the White Rabbit’s house, drunk
on grow-me potion, glugging it down.
The Transporter’s comforting boards
upstaged by the dizzy arc of a bridge:
a monochrome rainbow, an exit sign
spanning the horizon, lit up in chemical dark.
From downriver, mermaids called me
to where the Mersey became the sea,
a gull-haunted strait with looming ships
to New Brighton, Éire, The Caribbean.
I was waiting for the wind to change,
to tread the yellow brick road
journeying beyond myself, beyond the town
beyond the people I had known.
First published in Sculpted: Poems of the North West