By Gemma Livingstone
Seven decades ago I began to breathe
A new life watching over a new house
Part of a new estate being built
The town growing into the green belt
The houses spewed black smoke as coal fires burnt
The cars pumped out an awful smell into the air
And when I looked up
The same engines were in the sky
But the houses aren’t so black now
The cars are not as odious
But the planes still fly overhead
Now in ever growing numbers
Today there are no planes flying by
The cars are not moving
The people are in lock down
And I am still standing here breathing
It has become so much easier
Than it was even just last year
The sparrows have returned the flowers are blooming
Children are playing hide and seek
Have the humans learned?
Is it going to keep getting better?
Will the planes ever return?
Will the cars ever move again?
And when will they plant more of me?
After all I’ve stood here for seventy years
And I have breathed for you
So will you breathe for me?
Inspired by green spaces which many people have taken solace in since lockdown, Gemma’s poem is her response to the air becoming cleaner. Gemma, an S1 pupil at Castlehead High School, won the Paisley Book Festival 2021 Janet Coats Memorial Prize in the under 18 category.