This parental reverie is by Rachel Burns, who was shortlisted for the Keats-Shelley Adult Poetry Prize 2017. It can be found in the Autumn 17 issue of the literary publication Southlight 22 (Wigtown Festival Company, £5).

            SIGHTSEERS

We visit the same haunts every year

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our children’s lives marked

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by brightly coloured pins

in the Ordnance Survey map.

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Charting stumbling toddler years

to teenage angst, until they disappear

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from camera view, exams taking hold

and later preferring to travel

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further and wider, backpacking

across Europe, sleeping in hostels

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cooling their heels on the InterRail car.

Yet when we travel, we carry

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the memory of the children

they once were, through city trails

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across familiar landscapes, the hillsides

the beaches, the hundred acre woods.

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We hear our children’s laughter

in the grounds of ruined castles

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running up the steep steps on cliff walks.

Voices shouting over crashing waves.

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We stand on high bridges

looking down over the edge

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awed by the sheer drop.

It is if they have never left us.

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We are sightseers still.