Bristling with impish impatience you were.
Spiky with hope, ashen with annoyance.
Puffed with churling fury, weeping, moping.
‘You shall go to the dance, when you’ve swept.’
Chimneys stand: black cigars, smoking, you stood
painting the river, mixed soot with black tea.
Ebb and flow, the motion of your brushes
circling the river rushes. Past, it was …
so long ago, my great grandfather said,
‘Sweep cinders till dawn.Tommorrow you’ll play.’
Stick beats a path ahead of you, chasing
smoke. Chasing hope. Brush ‘n’ you fuse as sinew.
You dance the tornado, tease tight corners.
A poke and a turn, never burn. Slick flick
of wrist, sooty mists, foot misses, fire hisses,
screams, broken dreams. Deathly confetti
tumbles down. Limbs: tangled spaghetti. Eyes:
spangled and wet. He: splayed on the slate hearth,
never to dance again. Yet today…
today you dance: you dance in a land where
a boy is free. Where there is liberty,
weekends, minimum wage, radiators
and rights. I saw you in the deft twirl of
feathery brushes, in the fleeting folds
of swishing shirts, in the twist of long poles,
in the lithe live limbs, in the flash fuse of
joy. Jaunting by the crooked house, cheeks blush
below brush of black, brooms sharply aloft
like umbrellas poppin’ virgin clouds. I
smelt you in the smoky barbeques and crackling
chestnuts. Burning burgers piled on carts, warmed
Rochester flagstones. I heard your shoes like
flint on metal on the grating. I saw
you in the sooted faces, in the pompous bumble.
Humble beseeching me from the hearth, call
from river rill, saw your dry, black, bone dust,
married with soot. Smoothed you in my hands,
held you aloft as a baby bird. Song
of the sweep you whispered to me, I want
a day, to dance, to play. Away, far over
the Medway I released you. Swirled with the
ribbon, streaming, eyes sore from soot, the wind
brushed back in my face. Upstream, I watched you
circle chimney pots, cannon through castle
battlements. Skeet and reel around fluttering
flags. Sweep through the keep. Up to the sky. Blew
the cheery breeze, stirred up sweeps to hold fast
their caps. Some felt you brush against them. Gave
sweeping salute to the up-sweep of your
wings. Air ‘n’ you fuse as new, giving suit to
kissing clouds. Saw you in the forget me
not sky. In lemonade smiles of children.
In cathedral garden: the monument,
‘Buzz Dye, A brush with life.’ Painted your name:
hot soot sweat streaked from my face stirred with
sweet, strong, black tea. A song … then you were gone.