They make the slow haul uphill
with their shop-branded bags
of untried school uniforms
The boy bears his boxed Clarks shoes
as the girl lugs her sweatshop shirts –
freshly picked off Primark shelves –
Still with plenty of growing in ’em
was her mother’s observation
as she calculated the cost of it all
These slack summer holidays
will end not soon enough
for the parents – but not the kids
The hour-numbed regiments
will reform and take the school gates
in their battle colours of navy blue.
That first day back
as this holiday home
is squeezed of teens
and returns to its role
of roof and routine
for another term,
and outside The Unruly
form pairs and packs
on the narrow paths,
back to scattering
their breakfast crumbs
up the hill to school.
And then just the dog.
a short class
You could see the unexpected humidity
in the weep of the trees
almost a rainforest drip in the woods of Sussex
and being tall I had to dip to avoid
the damp stroke of lime leaf on my neck
that of a sweated relative
or grease-ball teacher.
Underfoot the cinder path was an equal impact
on memory as I lugged my groceries
that playground in Surrey which grazed kids
and scuffed the sandals
a home to sparkled
stones and shiny ants
and games of ball
and secret skipping songs of girls.
You are waking 10,000 feet above me,
a fact I haven’t Googled,
more an ill-educated guess,
that precursor of the internet
when my intelligence was never doubted
by you, or me.
The sky will be different over Alpendorf
when you wake in a rented bed
before your coach-trip return,
when you shall try to slumber, bundled
on two thin seats, plugged into BBC
as low Austrian, and dull German
lull your plunge, infected to sleep.
Then your swallow-dive off the highs
of steep black runs, into the deep-end
of the dream pool.