As a girl, I lost most of my time on the hillside.
It fattened the hedgerows
And got caught on barbed wire.

Some might say it was wasted,
All that youth washed away on wet afternoons
My feet warm inside wellingtons, even on icy days;

But now I see it was lost.
Like a keepsake, or a spoiled prize dropped in anger
It became overgrown and forgotten.

I found my old doll once,
Perched on a yew tree
Her face eaten in by insects.

I think of her often, her despoiling;
The pinafore on her dress
Stained red by berries.

Like her, I never found that time I lost –
That girlhood, which I had hoped
Would be pegged on the branches or propped on a stile.

Instead, I now look for that time inside myself
The stopped clock of childhood
Nesting between my ribs.

And I know that if I dug like a mole with long fingernails
Between the heavy lines frowned by my eyebrows
I might find there a small girl, cowering under my skin.

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