The Edge

The edge can be twisted,

it can be turned, rotated and up-ended,

spun around and spun well,

and yet


and yet

the face that you seek,

that ease of smile

and crinkle at the corner of their eyes

can still be on the furthest side.


But if you unfold the cube

instead of contorting it

the smiles and crinkles

will naturally rise.


To the teacher who broke me

There are certain days,

like those mornings just after a heavy downpour

where the scent of pollen and damp soil

mix to form that sickly, sweet smell,

and the sun comes out to create mocking shadows –

yes, days like those –

when nostalgia kicks in and I’m thrown

back to primary school,

clutching my satchel and walking into the playground

where all the other kids play without care

or squabble about nothing.


I sit on my own and watch.


Then the whistle blows

and she comes out, asking

us to line up.

A severe face carved

with severe eyes

and an even severer mouth,

but only when her gaze is turned to me.

Everyone else sees the smiling, caring mask

that tricks them into false security.

She speaks to them with soothing words,

but for me?

For me she leans in so that her severe face

is barely an inch from my own terrified one,

releasing the full roar of her lungs

into my ears.


I’m frightened.


I know she’s watching me,

waiting for me to tell someone about her.

I try to hide it,

but soon the dread consumes me.

I am physically sick at the idea

of facing her again,

seeing the rage build up in her eyes

when I ask even a simple question.


My parents grow concerned.

They talk with her –

she gives them the smiling mask –

and when they leave,

she rounds on me,

raging on

until I am no smaller

than a pebble in her wake.


My face is wet.

I can’t see;

I don’t want to see.

A hand gently touches my shoulder:

it’s time to speak up.

Tell them

what’s really troubling you.

Tell them the truth

about her.


I do.


Three weeks later,

she is gone.

Never to return.


Her voice is still there

in my mind.

It’s always there,

and so is the fear.


But now I can choose to ignore it.