Are you safe?

by Sam Howell

Are you safe? Have you noticed as I have that a bed's edges close in without two bodies to hold them back? And no number of instant messages make distance easy to live with.

The cat left. It took the first few weeks of soft words & pheromone to settle him and bang, just like that the first firework ruined everything. Chasing safety into insecurity, he made himself a cruel part of the winter nights.

I ride the bus now to distraction & forgetfulness, on occasion look up from my book and try to identify what matters most in life, mark between scarred frost fields & slick slate roofs some insight 30 years have yet to prove.

I used to sit up top among the unchecked volume of youth: school uniforms unbroken voices & the constant tug of war between conformity & the individuals they're aching to become. I try to remember how it felt being them –

bodies desperate to grow, skin as yet unblemished by what they'll one day learn to think important. I think of the classmates who joined me in my growing and realise these are their children.

The top deck rattles off its routine as the sun which has risen somewhere beyond fogged hills struggles greens & browns back into this our home beyond the window, light moving slow as a yawn down the valley

Really I'm torn between the past's impressions & the future's promises

A response to the National Poetry Month prompt