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Plastic Blue Sheet

‘Plastic Blue Sheet’ evolved from a workshop which took inspiration from ‘The Stroller’ by Jane Kenyon. It began as a poem focusing on an object from one time period, followed by a poem on the same object when it is rediscovered years later. I took an old plastic sheet that was once used for a water slide as the focus for my poem.

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Plastic Blue Sheet


We folded out the square of plastic blue,
stretched it across the grass between two trees.
Sprinting to the shed I found the hose,
dragging it like a snake along the lawn.
We turned the tap, covering the sheet in water
that spilled off the sides and sat in puddles.
I ran to the house for Fairy liquid.
“It makes you go faster, you know,” Raff said
and it did. We spent the afternoon sliding
and I, staring up, thought that our slide would look
to a passing bird like a blue swimming pool.


A decade later we clear out the shed, making space
for the pest control people to do their job,
a task that takes all day and reminds me
of news stories that show flood victims
throwing out family jewels like junk. Trips
to the dump cannot prevent the contents
of our shed from spilling over the lawn:
hoarded drift wood - drying for the fire,
garden tools and discarded furniture,
relics from the old days and things that I
don’t recognise. “It would be easier
if you had a skip,” Raff says. But we don’t.
Instead we find a plastic blue sheet
covered in dust, which we spread across the grass
between two trees, to put things on that we want to keep.


The sitting room was smoky warm and through
the window evening light dropped beneath
a barley field horizon. Twisted driftwood
fuelled the stove: white washed, contorted oxen bones,
difficult to stack but easy to burn.
I sat on the rug surrounded by cars
ploughing convoys through goat-skin jungles,
making the sounds to match as guests arrived
in ones and twos, many old with old people’s
clothes and grandma smiles but some were younger.

They took their seats along the sofas,
smiled and greeted, talking softly, taking
bibles from tatty satchels, turning pages
with patient rustles. I listened to holy words
read around, passages discussed
with intervals for coffee served on trays,
served by mum and dad together.


The stuff spread out across the grass - a life,
four lives and bits of others. We stand there
staring at the plastic blue, covered with things
to keep. Brown magnolia petals
raked in piles escape in an evening breeze.


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