nursery children

Three excited boys are scaling me tonight. They start off laughing, just ordinary boys, but breathe heavier and heavier as they come up to my cab. And they don’t stop there. No, these boys keep going. I like the way they grip me with a tender nervousness as they inch along my arm. Now they all sit in a row, can in one hand, phone in the other taking pictures of the city lights below.

My babies are asleep. They only grow in the sunlight, and winter’s early-evening floodlights. It’s spring now. The horse chestnuts are blooming. They’ll be dropping their own little babies soon to sprout from the ground just like mine, rising thin and fragile round my feet.

They grow fast. I pick up concrete slabs, swing them round and place them down to build a nursery for my little ones. The nurse-maids mix liquid food and fasten wooden planks into a lattice to keep them straight. One day I hope they’ll be taller than me, with great soaring arms that reach closer to the sky than I will ever be.

There’s just an outside wall for each of my children. They don’t need to be indoors. Even a late frost wouldn’t harm them now. But it’s good to have a wall, something to hold onto – like the boys holding onto my arm. I want to hold onto them of course, they’re my babies, what mother wouldn’t. They do have to grow up themselves though.

The nurse-maids, in their identical plastic hats and shiny yellow uniforms, rearrange the nursery again. One of the walls is put out of use, just standing bare, and instead they build a new wall. I suppose it must be to encourage more sprouting. Not sure about that. Do I want any more babies at this time?

And I am busy now, so busy assembling the roof. All my children are getting quite grown-up and have moved inside the nursery. That is good. They were getting very untidy outside, with dirt and scuffing. Not enough care was being taken. I am placing strong, unyielding beams to pull them up further. It is hard work. I hope it will be worth it in the end although as I lay the roof-plates onto the beams I hide the sky from my children.

Inside there are solid spirals winding around my tallest two. The shorter ones carry floors on their shoulders and the triple-glazed panels being fixed into place on the outside walls. They’ll stop the nursery getting so draughty. Some daylight should still get in, but looking down from up here I can only see my children’s shadows.

Now the nurse-maids have come to drive me away. It is time to go. And there is no time to say goodbye. I can’t see my babies at all, enclosed out of view in the nursery building. They must be ready to come of age – they’re not helpless infants anymore, they don’t need me. Soon, surely, they too will leave here and move on. There’s no room left for them to grow.

written in 2011

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