We cycle over beech nuts.
He points out our breath,
columns of sunlight
shining through the changing trees
and the damp-heavy river smell.
I’m worried about today’s
spelling and times table tests –
I struggle with witch and which.
We practise my sixes and eights
as we pedal past cloudy-faced kids
He helps me across
the busy road, laughs at the
grumpy caretaker who sighs
and swings his keys as he lets the morning masses
pass through the gates.
I put my bike
in the bike shed.
He kisses me
tells me not to worry about stuff.
I love you, have a good day
see you later, kidda, I’ll be here
at half three. Good luck
I wave through the window
as overhead a plane is coming into land.
He pushes his bike through playground puddles
and turns to blow me one last kiss.
Puts on his helmet and adjusts the strap.
And it’s five years later
and he never came back.
Copyright: from Bright Bursts of Colour (Bloomsbury Education, 2020), © Matt Goodfellow 2020, used by permission of the author and publisher.