Going Back. A poem by Fran Bardsley

The alarm goes off for the first time in weeks
– No –
She is already awake,
Bouncing and singing
No need for me to rouse her with a gentle shake or a kiss.

‘It’s too risky’

We go for cereal, this morning
She’s too excited to eat much
But I insist.
She bolts it down,
Grinning ear to ear.

‘They’ll be constantly stressed out’

Together, we put on the clothes she chose –
Fresh from the wash –
The night before,
Fasten her shoes and
Wash her hands
One more time.

‘It’s highly unwise’

A kiss goodbye to her sister,
Still at home for now
(until a distant September),
And for her father
Then off we go,
Skipping down the road.

‘It’s a joke’

We timed the walk:
8 minutes 42 seconds, we took.
Today, it takes less,
Too impatient to stop
At every single
Crack in the pavement.

‘I’m still so unsure’

At the gates we are greeted by
Yellow lines,
Red arrows,
A beaming headteacher.
Smiling teachers guide our way,
Waving and encouraging,
A beloved friend queues behind us
(two metres away, of course).

‘It will be weird and unnatural for them’

There’s a different teacher.
A different classroom, too.
But that doesn’t stop
Her smile –
Lighting up the darkness of the last few months
Weeks of trauma
Forgotten in a few seconds.

‘Mums know best’

I have to remind her to kiss me goodbye
As she springs into the classroom,
Raring to go.
Then she is gone for the rest of the day
In someone else’s care.
I am lighter as I walk home
I sit at my desk and log on.
I listen for an interruption that doesn’t come
An absent demand for yet another hug.

The quiet is deafening.


A journalist for 10 years, Fran now works in marketing and PR in the education sector and writes as much as she can. Older writings can be found here: mightier-than-the-sword.blogspot.com

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