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Saturday, 2 September 2017

The Lines that Divide Us

The Lines that Divide Us


So we’re in the car.
Swimming pool together and then a Happy Meal.
One final time, for good behaviour. 
That was the deal.


There are confident calls from my back seat driver,
my five year old, constant, road safety advisor.
His opinions, his views, safely secured and strapped
while those blue bright eyes construct and subtract.


‘What are those lines in the road, Grandad, who put them there?
They go left. Is that left? Which side is right? 
Which road do we take?
Sometimes there are two lines together. That’s a pair.
But if you can’t cross those lines, 
then how can you overtake?
Those are the lines that stop cars from blowing up.
You know Catwoman? She killed me in that game, with her cat-mine,
she actually did, didn’t she? 
But I will be Batman when I grow up
and, you see, I’ll make up the rules to get to the finish line.
No, silly. 
Only girls can say beautiful, boys must say cool.
Are you there? How long until we get to the swimming pool?’


Tomorrow we’re left sucking hard-boiled sweets in contemplation
as he points out the right route to the railway station.
He frowns and considers a cheap, plastic gift he’s handling.

I glance, rear viewing, to scan for understanding.
Was this enough time to top up the compassion?
To refuel all the love given now that it’s a yearly ration?
Because, you see, 
those dashed lines that streak over the sky,
why they are there? 
They exist to divide us. Then we say goodbye.