The Child Waves a Spade

in an old black and white photo.

She is wearing a striking hand-made dress

Decorated with red and blue poppies on a cream background

Spread out on the lawn next to a standard rose, also red

I remember, or make up.

She appears unposed staring uncertainly

At the camera, caught in the throes of three dilemmas,

Father, brother, rose…

Her brother is howling, for the spade?


Do I imagine the pat and dig

Of a child’s concentration on a job

Lovingly entrusted, the scent of dry

Crumbly soil running through chubby

Hands grimy with sand, caught in the moment

Of reluctance, wavering, spade half poised

In the act of relinquishing, of giving in

Too early, too young, waving the spade

Goodbye for the years ahead?



Copyrighted by the author

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