Poem of the Week
the sparrow steps
Did you ever think about that afternoon in Kamikochi,
dry twigs snapping underfoot?
I held out the skeleton of a cherry leaf,
told you autumn was proof that death could be beautiful.
You lagged behind as we climbed the hill,
paused at the top, out of breath.
I laughed, said we were getting older,
but I remember now that you didn’t reply.
We stopped at a bridge and you sat on the steps,
unfastened your boot to shake out a stone.
I crouched beside you, watched you run your fingers
over a row of tiny imprints in the concrete.
These birds’ feet are proof, you said,
that we sometimes leave an eternal mark,
that we live on after our beautiful deaths.
We should make a pledge, I replied,
if we ever lose touch we’ll meet here,
at the sparrow steps, ten years from today?
It was an easy promise, I was so sure we’d never be apart.
You looked up at the cherry trees,
and for a moment I remembered them in spring.
Then I saw the uncertainty in your eyes.
Yes, you said, quietly, we must do that.
AMANDA HUGGINS - BIO
Amanda Huggins is the author of the novellas All Our Squandered Beauty and Crossing the Lines, as well as five collections of short stories and poetry. She has won numerous awards, including two Saboteur Awards for poetry and fiction, the Colm Toibin International Short Story Award 2020 and the H E Bates Short Story Prize 2021. She was also a runner-up in the Costa Short Story Award 2018 and the Fish Short Story Prize 2021, and has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, The Alpine Fellowship Award and many others. Amanda lives in Yorkshire and works in publishing.