O'Brien said
the whole girl thing
was a falsity
why waste your time


on them?
he'd told Baruch
yes why?
Sutcliffe said


in an echo
as they walked home
from school


the New Kent Road
holding a cigarette
to one side
a thin line


of smoke
from his mouth
as she spoke


Baruch said nothing
about Fay
he just listened
thinking of her


as they walked along
his hands
in his pockets
his scuffed shoes


treading the pavement
his eyes looking
at Sutcliffe
at his blonde hair


and bright blue eyes
and O'Brien
with his shock
of brown hair


 and his crafty eyes
I've yet to meet a girl
worth losing sleep over
he said


not a wink of sleep
Sutcliffe added
Baruch had seen Fay
the day before


on the way home
 by the church
on the corner
of Meadow Row


she in her catholic
school uniform
clutching her satchel
her bright eyes on him


her fair hair
by the afternoon sun
how they had walked together


up the Row
she talking of the nuns
at the school
about the whole Latin thing


about the long list
of saints she had
to remember
he took in


her anxiety
her paleness of skin
he told her
of the pottery teacher


who ridiculed his pots
and how he did it
in front of the class
holding up the pot


and running it down
not that I care a toss
Benedict said
least not


about the pot
and they crossed
Rockingham Street
and up the slope


and there they waited
gazing at each other
the silence
like thin silk


he wanted to kiss her
but not doing so
she wondered
if she could get


nearer to him
maybe much closer
but feared her father
might hear of it


and he didn't like Baruch
didn't like the Jew boy
keep yourself free
of them


O'Brien said
girls cling to you
like leeches
and suck


the being
out of you
with their petty wants
yes wants and wants


Sutcliffe echoed
Baruch paused
by the hairdresser shop
by the crossing


opposite Meadow Row
best get home
Baruch said
yes me too


said Sutcliffe
hope my cousin's gone home
she's been with us
for weeks now


and always
in the bathroom
and wandering the house
in her almost


see through night dress
sure sure
O'Brien said
bet you hate that


and he laughed
and Sutcliffe walked off
home the cigarette
behind his back


in his inky fingers
see you around
O'Brien said


and wandered on
up the road
and Baruch
saw him off


and crossed the road
and walked down
Meadow Row
thinking of Fay


and that moment
he almost kiss her
how they stood
gazing at each other


he gazing
at her fine beauty
her figure 
and she fearing


her father
would know
and the nuns
at the school


always writing to him
about her
and what she does
and does not


and she seeing
Baruch there
feeling her heart beat
and sensed feeling hot.


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