Poem introduction

Barley Lane is the name of the primary school I went to, and this poem really just remembers the children that I knew when I was growing up, and who I think I thought - at that time - that I would know forever.

Barley Lane

Neeshat of the see-saw, I see your buckled shoes 
    where teacher caught you in a photograph 
and I am caped behind you, rising 
    with black holes between my teeth

and Mina, flower-clips and tiny furry wrists I gripped 
    to swing you on the grass 
and Nirpal of my street who taught me hindi ek do teen
    and Paul McClean of number 53 
who wore electric green, who smelt of coconuts, 
    who smelt so good

and Helen Lawrence who I vowed to meet at midnight 
    on the railway tracks, each night’s betrayal 
clicking neatly on the other 
    like a tube of coloured polo sweets

and Katie Noon and Lucy Noon,
    your mother wept in Sainsbury’s 
my mother said not one, but two, not one, but two
    and May who took front seat
and lived, a snake and ladder scar across her cheek 

    And all the children of the pool
bursting out of pastel cubicles
    and all the children of the playing fields 
in pastorals with lunch packs under willow trees
    or running hard away from me

Joanna of the flute, Abida of the flute and Damon Edgar, 
    first violin, waiting like a matron in the corridor 
to hush us in to Christmas in the hall, 
    a hundred wire-hanger mobiles strung with tinsel 
turning in the air above us -
    Angels, Angels, I have lost you all.


from Chick (Bloodaxe, 2013), © Hannah Lowe 2013, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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