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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.




© Copyright David Selzer
1 Response
  • Anne Wynne
    October 29, 2013

    Just been browsing really through your latest poems – but it’s this first one I read that haunts me and I keep coming back to. It’s shocking and then so unfair that the playground is intact and the memorial is tarnished but, of course, you give us hope when you say it may catch the moonlight – or glimpsed in the sun by a sailor. It’s lovely and it feels, in some way, that the dead child has somehow overcome the ugliness of life. I love the title too – there’s hope.

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