On visiting Stationers Park playground for the first time since 1999

I am weeping in a wooden turret, remembering the dead
dragonfly we found here: we wanted to keep it, so it lived

in Father’s tobacco tin, its petrol-slick-on-puddle wings spread
wide, looking crucified on a pillowy bed of Golden Virginia.

Father kept it safe, protected, so that we could study its soap bubble shine
& paint pictures of it later. I can feel his presence in the park, his spirit.

He is here: blurred ghost in double denim, standing by the algae stream,
marvelling at the starlings, cigarette hanging off the cliff-edge of his smile.

I won’t tell you this, though I want to. You worry about me enough
as it is. I often feel that I have no lungs. Dragonflies breathe through

holes in their abdomens. Mine are all corked. I am not sure that I can come here
again. Not for a while, anyway. I’m just not strong enough. You know my soul

has always been so delicate, like the cling film of bees’ wings,
torn apart with such ease; & since he died, I’ve been crushed

between the cruel rub of filthy fingertips. Ground down to a fine powder
by so many careless men in his absence, this is what’s left of a daughter:

opalescent ashes, scattered about the damp floor
of a castle that shrunk with the size of my dreams.

Protected from nothing, from no one, by nobody,
the remnants of my happiness shimmer in distress.

HLR is a prize-winning poet, working-class writer and professional editor from North London. She is a commended winner of The Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition 2021. She won The Desmond O’Grady International Poetry Competition 2021, and was commended in The Plough Prize 2022. HLR’s debut collection History of Present Complaint (Close to the Bone) was longlisted for the Poetry Book Awards 2022. Twitter: @HLRwriter / treacleheart.com