A Child’s Vision of Cannock Chase

Quarrelling voices rise through floorboards
warped by age and shifting subsoil
muffled rearrangements
transmuting bedrock to deceitful quicksand.

Fever waxes humid and flickering sleep
conjures a scene in monochrome.
A stalking form flutters across the viewfinder.

Lurid headlines howl their outrage
at a little girl’s violation and murder.
She was my age.

A map is folded and, away on the Chase
a distance of miles foreshortened to a blink
opens again in a pinched, passed-over place
a copse at dusk; bark, knots and boles
straining imperfections, bend the grain
carve lungless screams in grotesque flourishes
twisted roots into a strangler’s remorseless grip.

In that febrile instant amplified to hours
the ego’s conviction is unquestioned
that I must be next.


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