18 June 2011

One Boy Alone

At length we reached the field
where yesterday
the children played
their boundary games,
their chalked-out hopscotch grids
covering half a continent
from Szczecin to Trieste

and saw again
the place where they
shot dead the sheriff
with his six-point star;
tracks in the grass
where arm-linked carriages
crisscrossed the plain until,
uncoupled, all collapsed
in hooting laughter

and saw the scorched grass
where the fires had been.

This is the place
where Mother Goose gave way
to pioneering songs,
and the enchanted wood became
a repository of winks
and nods, and countless
whispered condemnations.

And I thought again
of that one boy alone,
at dawn, and separate from the rest,
his pale fingers
toying with matches
and a petrol can.