THE OUTING


Each Armistice Day, she remembered it.
A walk along the riverbank. Her teacher took them –
one Saturday when the hawthorn was out
and the river slow after weeks of sun –
her and three of the other older girls.
Miss Davies’ young man came too –
in his uniform, on leave from the front.

When they all rested in the shade of a willow,
he unwrapped a large bar of chocolate
slowly, looking away, or pretending to,
across the river.  Suddenly he turned.
‘Voila!’, he said, holding it out to them.
‘Pour vous. From plucky little Belgium.’

Miss Davies and her young man went and sat
at the river’s edge, their heads almost touching.
Two of her friends began whispering – another
pursed her lips and kissed the air. The others giggled.
She lay back – and squinted at the sun through the branches.
‘Look’, said one of the girls. The soldier was pretending
to dip the toe of his boot in the water.
Miss Davies laughed.

On the way back, ‘Listen’, he said, and they stopped.
On the dappled path, blocking their way,
a song thrush was striking a snail on a stone
again and again and again.

 

 

Note: the poem was one of the first pieces to be published on the site in April 2009  and has been subsequently published in ‘A Jar of Sticklebacks’ – http://www.armadillocentral.com/general/a-jar-of-sticklebacks-by-david-selzer

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  1. #1 by Ian Craine - August 28th, 2014 at 14:10

    This is good, this one, David. It seems a bit different from most of your work somehow – in its rhythms maybe or in its narrative, I’m not sure. But I definitely like it.

  2. #2 by David Selzer - August 28th, 2014 at 17:03

    Thanks for this, Ian – not least that it reinforces my decision to re-post pieces to attract new readers to them. And, yes, it is different. I think it’s the use of free verse as well as the narrative form.

  3. #3 by Howard Gardener - August 31st, 2014 at 15:21

    Great imagery throughout David but I particularly liked the last stanza. It reminded me a little of one of Ivor Cutler’s monologues: “Outside we could hear the sound of a weasel choking a thrush…”

    The innocence of the song thrush striking the snail against a stone to me suggests much more sinister things going on elsewhere in parallel.

  4. #4 by John Huddart - September 15th, 2014 at 11:54

    Howard is spot on about that final stanza. It’s up there with the great endings, and compelling final lines.

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