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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