Rust

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I have never liked the way rust feels against the skin.

Shards of old paint curling and collapsing

beneath the press of tiny, grubby fingers

as the latch on the gate fights to remain shut,

last weeks rain, too much for something so old

to face without a little protest.

The tiny flakes that stay behind,

stuck into the sweat and the mud,

too small and sharp to brush off all together

no matter how many times hands are scrubbed

against dirt stained jeans with patches at the knees

or run across the grain of old fence posts

that dot the garden paths and always lead

back home.

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43 Comments

    1. Thank you Victoria. I think it’s a pretty common experience, but it was something from my childhood that really stuck with me, especially as my parents were big on ‘go and play outside’ and we had this huge garden.

  1. Oh, the images in your poem are so strong I can almost feel the rust on my fingers. I like that you found something so unusual but yet so ordinary to write about.

  2. Those nasty little flakes – my hands felt those icky flakes and the itch again. I like the way this takes such a common thing and changes it into something extraordinary and universal.

  3. I too like that you took such a mundane (but annoying) occurrence and wrote what we’ve all experienced about it…your images are clearly captured and presented beautifully.

  4. Rust put me in mind of Joan Baez’s Diamonds and Rust. It was her 75th birthday yesterday. Rust that sticks and diamonds that shine – forever objects. Here it becomes a touchstone to childhood – to gardens that seem the size of a continent to a child, and equally exotic. This is laced with so much texture and tactile references that it really does “get under your skin”.
    Thank you.

    1. Not trouble, it’s more a nuisance since I have to select who I want to comment as, and then sign into my word press account before I can post a comment.
      I did read and enjoy your post though.

  5. Ah, this is so evocative of childhood experiences with rust..its color and how it sticks with you…reminds me of the feel of nails on a chalkboard. In this case, the length is absolutely fitting.

  6. Excellent description here….I can feel it, I can see it. I’ve experienced this — getting that red rust dust on your hands…..but I always then got red stains on my clothes, which my mother wasn’t too happy about! 🙂
    Thanks for the memories here…….really really enjoyed this one!

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