• Kate Clarke

Listen Less

We hiked a lot when we were kids

Dorset or Cornwall, on holiday

with another family

A brood of boys, mum, and me

Their dad, Ted, a sidecar racer

gave me my first pair of boots

red laces, and shiny as a conker

the smallest in a muddy row

awaiting feet, at our back door

their chunky soles, like a Yorkie bar


I learned back then that while I could

trail happily behind the pack

(runt of the litter, they used to joke)

I should never trust a niche

someone urges me to reach for

So, mindful of my fear of slippage

and, ever-cautious in my nature

my footholds would sit much lower

I trusted the instincts of my body

the appraisal of my own young eye


I forgot this lesson, as I grew

paid too much heed when others sketched

The life they wanted me to stretch for

with its long, unlikely wish-list

charting things entirely mis-matched

to my centre of gravity

I could have been far more sure-footed

Instead, I let doubt undermine me

and vague disquiet breed unrest

No-one knows anything. Listen less


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