The Flats by the Playing Field

Too many stairs to the top floor,
and yet I ran up them, brave
and unafraid of falling, but more
scared of the piss-scented lift 
that always stopped 
between floors.

If you bumped into a neighbour,
leaping downstairs was easier,
even on the way to the grocery store.
it was an escape, the stairwell to freedom,
and you didn’t need to take
a breath between floors.

Accompanied by the traffic’s roar
as it sped along London Road,
I’d pick my way between parked cars,
where dads smoked and tuned engines,
and mums called kids in to tea from balconies 
of the upper floors.

When you reached the magical door,
the gate to freedom, it was mostly locked,
no problem for kids dying to explore
the long grass, the cricket pitch, the hill and trees, 
all of which could be seen 
from the top floor.

Plimsolled feet gripped metal bars
as we climbed the padlocked gate
and leaped to a place we’d been before
so many times, but it was fresh and new,
the playing field that rescued 
us from the top floor.

Kim M. Russell, 23rd April 2023

Image credited to Merton Historical Society

It’s Day 23 of NaPoWriMo and in England it’s St George’s Day and the date of William Shakespeare’s death, which some say is also his birthday, although there is no proof of that.

We start our optional prompt by reading Arvind Krishna Mehrotra’s ‘Lockdown Garden’ and then write a poem of our own with numbered sections, which should be in dialogue with the others, like a song where a different person sings each verse, giving a different point of view. It should also be set in a specific place where we used to spend a lot of time, but don’t anymore.


4 thoughts on “The Flats by the Playing Field

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