Now old enough at seven to sleep
in a little tent with her cousins
in the garden on a July night, she was
abducted, stifled, man-handled down
the shallow hill to the pebble beach
below the paddling pool, abused, murdered.
Next to the shelter by the pool, the council built
a playground with climbing frame and slide,
removed part of the shelter to house
a memorial her parents commissioned –
an open metal box, almost an altar,
with a brass plaque, and low enough for even
the smallest child to place flowers or a toy.
The robust play equipment has survived.
The subtle memorial was vandalised,
so often, it was removed – leaving
only rust stains on the tiles. The plaque
was placed on the shelter’s seaward wall.
The plaque is a little tarnished, lettering
no longer pristine. Neglect – or design?
I would imagine at dawn on a clear day
its glinting in the sun and a chance
mariner wondering at such a light
on the shoreline of a seaside resort.
Yet better, perhaps, it’s weathered – forever,
for always, baffling the stinging spray
of winter’s highest tides or catching
moonlit, calm, summer seas.