An Old Tea-Chest


A note came saying “Please Collect.”
I had forgotten the old tea-chest
gathering dust over the years
in Paddington station left luggage office,
a childhood brick tipped off the precarious pile
and lost under the settee of forgetfulness.

How little of its contents I recall:
the coronation scrapbook made at school,
old exercise books, school magazines
containing my first ‘published’ poems,
toys and books perhaps, as lost in my mind
as in that cube of darkness.

“Send it on to Deal,” I wrote.
My brother collected it,
placed it unopened in his loft
whilst I, a broken child
searching for the man inside,
sought sanctuary from town to town.

Decades later reminiscing,
filling in the missing years, he said
his wife (now ex) put it on the bonfire
in spite (for him I hope, not me)
sent my childhood box to heaven
on bonfire night.

Now, as rockets splash on sky
I long to touch whatever it was
I thought worth keeping, prise off
the lid that clamps my memory,
take back the childhood
burned out of my heart.

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