Dick Morecraft said
about joining the Scouts
who used
the church hall


good venture
he said
we do things
tie knots


and learn
about nature  
how to start a fire
with two bits of wood


and sing songs
around campfires
and so on he went
walking home from school


you wanting to join the scouts
like you wanted diarrhoea
listening half heartedly
thinking of what


was for tea
or what to do
after school
and where to go


and we learn how
to put up tents
Dick added
the last straw


you said
I’ll think about it
see you around


and so off he went
along Newington Butts  
and you went down
the subway and along


hands in pockets
when you saw Ingrid
up ahead with bent shoulders


and lowered head
what’s up? you said
and she showed you
a tear


in her school dress
a rip in the side
her white vest


my dad’ll kill me
(not quite you knew
but he’d beat her
black and blue)


what do I do?
she said crying
wiping her eyes
don’t go home


just yet
you said
my mum’ll sew it up
like new


we’ll go to
my place first
that’s what we’ll do
so you walked


up and out the subway
and across the bomb site
and up Meadow Row
(her mother or father


needn’t know)
and up the concrete stairs
to your flat and in
and you explained


to your mother
what was wrong
and she said she’d fix it
with needle and thread


and so Ingrid
took off the dress  
and gave it
to your mother to sew


and sat there
in the sitting room
in her vest and underwear
fiddling with her fingers


looking around
the room shyly
arms and legs
carrying badges


of black and blue
go get Ingrid
a glass of Tizer
and biscuit


your mother said
and don’t gawk so
and so you went
to the kitchen


and poured
a glass of Tizer
and got a biscuit
from a tin


and took them in
Ingrid wide eyed said
thank you
and took the biscuit


and glass
and nibbled
and sipped
and you told her


about the scouts
and what
Morecraft said
about tents


and tying knots
and lighting fires
with sticks
and such


(not caring much)
and all the time
eyeing the bruises
and welts on legs


and arms
and your mother said
don’t stare so
at Ingrid in her


white( near grey)vest
and underwear
so you changed
the subject


to the cinema
about some cowboy film
where the good guy
twirls his gun


and goes pop pop pop
you said
and gets the baddies


just like that
and how after
the boring bit
where he kisses a girl


he twirls
his gun again
(you need
to practice that)


and she listened
as she sipped her drink
and nibbled the biscuit
sitting there


with her badges
of blue and black
in her underwear
and a red line


her skinny back.



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