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by Tina 

Posted: 24 July 2006
Word Count: 109
Summary: Hi folks returned to the fold - this seen recently in the park

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The yellowed pitch is marked,
bright wheals of light and shade
streak its expanse to the boundary wall.
It is empty now except for this small person running
anxiety rising in the pitch of her cry
arms outstretched;
a body blotched in sweat and tears.
The man on the bench is reading
she shows him the angry marks
offering an upturned face that weeps and shines,
but he is not available to her.
With a sigh he slaps down the paper,
takes a tissue and rubs the marks.
It does not console.
She bends in upon herself
fingering the wound, still sobbing.
This one will be hers for life.

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Comments by other Members

joanie at 15:06 on 24 July 2006  Report this post
Hi Tina. Yes, this is very sad. I love the title, which is much more than the physical. I like the observational, straight descriptive tone. The awful thing is, I'm sure I've been guilty of similar with my own children, especially in this sort of heat!

Because the last line is so effective and important, I wonder if it should be separated.

An enjoyable, thought-provoking glimpse of a snapshot in the park.


NinaLara at 18:31 on 24 July 2006  Report this post
The yellowed pitch is marked,
bright wheals of light and shade
streak its expanse to the boundary wall.

I really like this - I was trying to describe those spiders web markings across bleached grass earlier today and 'wheals' seems a perfect word - especially in light of the marks on the child's skin (also bright).
I also like her little face that weeps and shines and the ending is very effective.

The only word I am not sure about is anxiety because it seems a little grown up for the young girl. Nerves? Panic? Distress?

Very clear picture.


James Graham at 19:05 on 24 July 2006  Report this post
Hi Tina, good to see a new poem. Like Joanie, I'm struck by the dispassionate language, the tone of straight reporting. It wouldn't be hard to respond with strong language to the impatience of the man on the bench, and his half-heartedness which amounts to unkindness. (OK, there are times when we can't be bothered with children, but at the risk of sounding self-righteous I'd like to think if that was me on that bench, reading the Guardian of course, I'd have made a bit more effort.)

Your telling of the incident has almost the tone of an observant bystander's evidence in court - everything is observed and clearly stated so that we can visualise the incident sharply. Because it's so clear, there's no need for the poem to tell us how to respond.

It's not all on the same dispassionate level, though. 'A body blotched in sweat and tears' and 'weeps and shines' are chinks through which feeling flows. I think you've used very good judgement in the way you've controlled the telling of the incident, allowing these emotive moments to occur here and there. The last of these moments, and the most resonant, is the last line.

I'm a little confused when I try to visualise the place. Especially I can't clearly see the 'bright wheels (is it wheels?) of light and shade' that 'streak its expanse'. I wonder if you really need three lines of description of this grassy space? It might be enough to write: 'The park is empty now/ except for this small person running...' Or, try reducing it to two lines, focussing on just the flat expanse and the effect of light and shade.

Given the 'bystander's evidence' style, I think there should be a little more punctuation. Commas after running and cry; full stop after reading; commas after marks and shines.

This poem makes a strong impact, mainly as I say by delineating the incident so clearly and leaving the reader to respond - and also in the way the last line broadens our perspective, showing that for the little girl it may not be a passing thing, or something easily forgotten.


Tina at 07:25 on 25 July 2006  Report this post
Hi Joanie, James and Nina and thanks for your responses

Yes returned to the fold now I have some time to myself - ahhh how good that feels!

In general response to you all what I wanted was to convey the contrast of the light on the grass and the marks on the child - thus the use of 'marked pitch' ( which could mean it is marked for sport or by the light or in some way marked out) - then the wheals of light as in marks that are left by some kind of assault and then angry marks. I take your point about the first three lines James - I don't know what prompted the 'boundary wall' but it felt like for this child a boundary wall was needed????

What I actually saw was a small child running across some grass which was half in shade and half out and she almost became zebra like as she ran - then the idea of marks occurred to me when she fell. Almost that small children are so easily 'marked' in a way it is as inevitable as the light/shadow thing.

Anyway thanks for your comment and more soon!!!!!

James Graham at 19:13 on 25 July 2006  Report this post
Tina, if you heard a metallic sound it was a penny dropping. It's 'weals of light'. Weals, i.e. wounds, scars. (Don't think there's an h in it, though.) The description of the grassy area makes sense to me now, and 'weals' as a metaphor is very appropriate. In an odd sort of way, it recalls 'Dead Man's Fingers'.


Tina at 15:42 on 30 July 2006  Report this post
Thanks James - funnily enough I looked this up on the internet as I wasn't sure how to spell it - and it gave a spelling with an h??? Just doesn't look right though does it? I can see now what you mean about Dead Mans Fingers!

with thanks

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