On the last day, he never even emptied his schoolbag; just threw it in the cupboard in the spare room with carrier bags full of letters, photographs and pressed flowers. He moved out of the family home, acquired a job and a drink problem, a successful business and an unsuccessful marriage. He wouldn’t think about it for years, but three or four times he had a dream in which he found it, still where he’d left it, opened it up, and wept at what was inside, though he could never remember what it was when he woke up. Then once, when he was visiting his now-aged parents, he had an urge to look, and there it was, still. With preemptive tears prickling his eyes, he opened it and saw that the books had grown back into trees, with damp grass all around, and there were birds like notes on telegraph wires, singing a song he’d written in an abandoned bandstand: it was about cheap sparkling cider, the smell of fireworks, subtle indentations in a sloping lawn.
Oz Hardwick is a writer, photographer, music journalist, and occasional musician, based in York (UK). He has published six poetry collections, most recently The House of Ghosts and Mirrors (Valley Press, 2017), and has edited and co-edited several more, including (with Miles Salter) The Valley Press Anthology of Yorkshire Poetry, which was a National Poetry Day recommendation in 2017. His website: http://ozhardwick.co.uk.