Me. Ankle socks and clean red shorts
head full of Famous Five
new borrowings in hand,
take the short cut home.
Thistles, willow-herb and giant dock
edge the track, their coarse smell heavy in the air.
Rank elder bushes black with fruit,
bend to block the way; brambles
snag insistent at my sleeves.
Then they appear; grinning like weasels:
rough boys, I know I must avoid,
all grime and crooked teeth.
One bars the way, the other at my back
thrashes at nettles with a stick.
‘Do you fuck?’ he says. ‘Do you?’
Their sniggers hem me in.
I’ve never heard the word
yet sense it’s something bad.
I run, their jeering yelps and howls
chase me like dogs across the field.
I shouldn’t have been there,
am too afraid to tell. He didn’t touch me,
though in my mind a splinter lodged:
his twisted snake-belt, glinting in the sun.
After decades teaching in the north of England and Scotland, Lynda Turbet now observes the world from rural Norfolk, and tries to make sense of it all through writing.