Could have been paint, only it wasn’t
Just eager teen-dripping faces
Waiting for dark – the cover of night
- That gauze soaked with ointment.
Light lingered like a hand distracted
Starting to unravel, plaits
Thick with sweat, once bound by mother
Hair fell like a token of design.
I was thirteen then, we were
For we – it felt collective
And an afternoon assembling tents
Idle chatter working with our tongues.
The summer threaded through my shirt
With every dig, and drag, and
Of breath, like a lover to confess
If life is fresh,
Then this is raw.
Raw the wet and glittering eyes
In their nervous gestures round the flames
Where girls smile and society sleeps
No one to curse the childish thirst for games.
Perhaps it was that clinging taste
Of Ribena, rinsed beyond repair
The singe of food’s metallic scrape
Between chapped lips and unwashed hair.
But it was warmth
The warmth of action, for itself
I seldom since
Have felt, for now the hands are clocked
The camp is watched
The fire is consequence.