A companion piece to yesterday’s ‘Singing Together’, I guess. About personal humilation, but also a sense that in the eyes of our teachers (or if not all of our teachers, then certainly some of them, and certainly the wider community around us) we were doomed to… well, who knew and who cared.
Nineteen-seventy-mumble. They are arming the clans.
Rigged out in trousers edged with tartan
each of us gets a cardboard box to open.
Recorders: dismantled and assembled
like the sniper’s gun in The Day of the Jackal.
There’s a small brush to dry off excess spittle.
Cannon fodder for the Glen Estate Boot Boys
(GEBB for short) we’d wear our skinners to our knees
if we were let. Our Clark’s Commandos
have a secret compass lodged within the sole.
The hardest lads knock studs into the toecaps, so
they’re walking north, whichever way they go.
After a year or two of playing the recorder
it’ll be sheep and goats, the elite cadres
of the consort versus the common soldiers.
Now, though, our caterwauling might be pre-
Lapsarian. A single tone-deaf entity,
the whole class makes a Babel-squeak as wee
nail-bitten fingers grope to close the gaps
dividing can and can’t, might/won’t. Fond hopes
and never in a million years. Perhaps.
Author of four collections of poetry, the most recent, The resurrection of the Body at Killysuggen, published in June 2011 by Belfast’s Lagan Press. He blogs about his latest book on www.killysuggen.wordpress.com.