This is where the children played.
Do you see?
Where the streaks run down the wall
near the broken tarmac where the
hopscotch pitch was drawn?
This is where they swang their ropes,
jumped in time to tunes they sang,
skipped their feet and clapped out
the beat: “one, two, buckle my shoe”.
Oh, and here there stood a climbing frame,
they used to climb and play some game
on turrets they conjured in their mind
of far-off castles and knights of old
they’d heard in bed-time stories
their parents told.
Across that path, behind the wire
(or course in those days it was not on
fire) there stood a type of slide
on which they’d glide and scream
with breathless joy “look, I’m
Ah, and here, amongst the rubble,
you can just make out, the shape of
of the old swinging boat. With seven
places for happy faces; it bucked and
jived and tossed about.
Here, just here, the boys marched up and
down; team blue, team green, marking time,
“to attention”, faking guns
with their hands. Girls did girl
things, which boys didn’t understand,
they didn’t mix which seemed
Look, beyond the stains, by the last of
the sheds is the line where you
had to wait when break was over
or got to school late.
They used to poke and push and
stand in single file and girls would
giggle all the while
so teacher would “shoosh”.
They didn’t know then that they were free,
they scraped their shins and tore their shorts
and got muddy knees from simple things.
Knights fought dragons and always won,
just there, by the slides and the
turrets of the castle-come-climbing-frame.
Do you see?
They kicked balls across the playground
and played tig and run-around and
kiss-chase in the sunshine, just there
by that stack of marker stones. They played
conkers on the corner (moved away from
all the windows) and rubbed dock on
the stings from the nettles.
They were innocent. Do you see?