We live on a council estate, my daughter and I.
Nine years old, but she looks much younger.
She has not yet learnt to read the minds
and the motives of our neighbours. It’s a month
now since they stopped playing with her,
Heather, Helen, Edmond and Simon.
When I bring her home from school she
doesn’t take off her jacket, but waits.
When a breeze whistles past the house
she opens the blue door with a smile
to see whether anybody waits outside
asking her to play on the reckless street
smothered in hostile dust; but no-one is there.
A long emptiness howls like a mad dog
chained in unknown hatred at the gate.
Her heart hardens like the weary
paving stones. Nobody comes
to soften my daughter’s fallen spirit.