Grandparents see future kings in small boys,
promise trips to boating lake and forest
worlds away from the flat above shops
Away from bone-dry August air
heavy with discordant dog barking, raised voices,
kids’ screams and throaty open-back buses
Like the one to Ilford Market which passed
by broken teeth of war-bombed buildings.
Nan bought sandals from a man wearing a turban.
It was oven-hot. Streetwise kids poked sticks
into treacle tarmac. A boy laughed at my accent,
smudged tar on one of my sandals.
Later, on a window ledge facing a brick red sunset
brown-black from coats of grandad’s shoe polish
lay the sandals I wished would disappear.
First published in Reach Poetry Magazine, June 2017