Mantra to protect all children


this is a mantra to protect all the eggs
in the nest, eggs with their thin shells,
porcelain-thin, dim glimmer of light,
a dull clink of day-sound, fine silk pulled taut

this is a mantra to lash a limber reed fence
around the children trace a chalk circle
around the children bubble-wrap around

this is a mantra to protect against blueface
as the cord tightens around the throat
the pelvis shifts and a yo-heave-ho
on a blob with a pulse, a tangle of veins
too hard too soon, birth a mess of half-formed
organs a wet no-name membrane

this is a mantra to protect tiny breathing holes
stopped by the spittle and mucus of a kiss,
for birdcage ribs of meerschaum against the press
and squeeze of bones, split hooves, webs, fins, thick
claws and pads, whose owners step back to keek
at a dawn, salmon-tail, a star – for the hairline crack
of a skull collapsing like amaretti under the love-heel

the unintentional heel the unaware and unthinking,
the well-meaning, the achilles heel, the crushing
parental heel, the smothering stacked heel,
the faraway fatherly feathery fugitive winged heel

this is a mantra to protect all children
from the thirty-metre-deep, lungbursting five-hundred-bar
escaped-steam-hissing pressure
of the splashdown after flying too close to the sun,
of broken wings, awkward dreams of teachers
bad marks badgers and/or badasses, hatred of lemon
drizzle cake and hanging baskets, sugar tongs, grape scissors,
kra-zee golf, doilies, fear of the noose the gibbet thumbscrews
humiliation drugs heights lawyers and reams of paper;
inability to articulate bend or get it right, failure
to make the grade reach the summit catch the dawn
the wave the cold the riptide the ball the drift
or the train

this is a mantra to protect all children
from the sugar sweetie sugar surfeit trickling
through keyholes under doors down drainpipes overflowing
from guttering in drips in wet gobbets from the eaves
and windowsills of the skewwinking gingerbread house

this is a mantra to protect the children
from the knowledge the wise the wisdom they pass
with the sugar – fill the pail light the fire – medicine
deities rules regulations recipes for baba ganoush
angel-cake and disaster the potholes the landfills
the fillings the unexploded bombs the warheads the dread
the dreck the muck the sick the tack the block the lack

this is a mantra to protect all children from

Claudia Daventry