He was my good friend, Brian,
gentle – a bit shy
one gold tooth glinting
at the side whenever he smiled.

On school sports day I loved to watch
the notes he made against the high-jump bar –
The way he climbed the air –
His fearless sideways flip. His winging arms.

Until one ordinary Monday morning
Our teacher faced us in the classroom –
Brian… over the weekend… hospital
Ruptured appendix… Peritonitis…

I remember how I headed for home
blinded by the bright day flipped dark –
and how we took turns bearing his coffin
under a scorching mid-day sun.

In dreams he’s still my good friend, Brian –
laughing, lanky
A touch of spark
A floating black question mark.

Copyright: from Cosmic Disco (Frances Lincoln Books, 2013), © Grace Nichols 2013, used by permission of the author

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Grace’s poems are full of the sounds and stories of Guyana, the Caribbean country where she was born and grew up, often drawing on its ...

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