Paddington to Praed

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A month after the accident, on Praed Street,
You and I took my paperbacks and your felt tip pens
And we fled to the forests of America.
A rented house in Oregon. Weeks tallied to months, and it became our home.

We spent the first summer camping and meeting animals.
London pavements, iron and cold, faded
faster than I thought they would.
Your mother and my wife faded with them.
By the time you were 4, they were both abstract kindnesses.

We taught ourselves ‘store’ instead of ‘shop’
Carried brown paper bags instead of plastic.
Your favourite drink was Ribena, but America had none.
Little differences distracted you
from colossal ones,
and when you mourned that drink more than your mam,
I brittled, and broke, in sadness and happiness both.

I used to scaffold, and now I fell white pines,
great white pines that tremble as I near.
I am blackcurrant.

Years later, you speak with an accent,
play baseball and drive on the right.

In a shoebox, upstairs, I have a photo from another world.
A photo of you next to a statue of Paddington Bear.
A world 8 minutes before the one we live in now,
where someone drove on the left.

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