On Woolacombe beach my Grandpa builds
an MG convertible sports car from sand,
in front of the swingboats where I was sick once.
My car faces the wind-ruffled sea, roof down
under a sky made from torn strips of paper.
Grandpa slowly carves the bonnet and makes me
a member of the AA. He shapes the wheels
and stands back, proud as a car salesman.
Other kids are staring. They want to be me.
In a few weeks my parents will separate,
but now our orange windbreak holds them
close together in flowery beach chairs
safe from the wind. I sit behind the steering wheel
of my new MG. The engine starts first try.
I take her out for a spin to Lundy Island
to see the puffins and the granite stacks
and back, beeping my horn to warn the surfers,
who wave. I park her where she was before,
facing out to sea. Mum looks up from her book
and says it must be time for a 99.
I want to jump on my car before we leave,
and ruin her so no one else can ruin her,
but Grandpa won’t let me. He takes my hand
in his, saying don’t look back. Let’s go.