All the best places were forbidden, disused,
decrepit, far from net curtains, aunts,
mother spoiling a lost fatherless boy.
Best was the brickworks. We thrust, like commandos
sharp with twigs and fear, through undergrowth
into the yards. Blackberries burst, purpling
in private summers. Once, I hid in reeds.
A sundew glistened. A horsefly hovered.
I heard my companions calling, calling…
My mother met us raging, loving before
friends who had fathers. Shame prickled my face
the blackberries had stained.




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  1. #1 by Mary Clark - September 24th, 2015 at 18:39

    Evocative of childhood’s raging emotions and search for self-identity. One of your best, I think.

  2. #2 by Hugh Powell - September 25th, 2015 at 12:25

    A fine twin to Heaney – more powerful in its evocation of your childhood’s bringing up.

  3. #3 by John Huddart - September 25th, 2015 at 12:28

    Hugh is right – and it is right to re-work childhood, holding hands with mentors such as him.

  4. #4 by Alan Horne - September 27th, 2015 at 21:35

    I liked this because it’s so stripped down. “Once I hid in reeds.” Five words, but you could puzzle over just that bit for ages.

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