After school
about dusk
you and Helen
went down the back


of the coal wharf
and picked up
dropped pieces of coal
from the cobble


stone floor
or reached
just inside
the railed up fence


and picked out
what you could touch
(not over-much)
and put it


into an old sack
you'd brought
do your parents
know about this?


Helen said
hell no
you said
I just sneak it in


and drop it
into the coal bunker
in the kitchen
when no one's looking


while they're
in the other room
watching the TV
saves them money


you added
Helen nodded
what if you got caught?
who by?


well a Rozzer
or your parents
she said
looking concerned


the eyes behind
her glasses
looming large
just say I found it


and was taking it home
away from harm
you said
she frowned


what do mean?
I was joking Helen
I don't what I'd say
make it up


as I went along I guess
as usual
she nodded
her two plaits of hair


bobbing at the back
of her head
I’d wet myself
if a Rozzer


stopped me
she said
I’m like that
well don't worry


just leave it to me
to talk
act dumb
she smiled


I could give
my imbecile look
my dad said
I’m good at it


she said
after getting enough
in the sack
to be able to carry


you walked along
Meadow Row
the sack in your left hand
held tight


how was school today?
you asked
ok except
that Cogan boy


called me four eyes
and said I looked like
a dead fish


you said
he wears glasses himself
the stupid feck
and he looks


as if someone as stopped
an operation
on his features
half way through


Helen laughed
did you swear?
she said
don't think so


you said
don't pay no attention
to Cogan
you look pretty


she smiled
and took
your right hand
and held it


as you walked across
Rockingham Street
she looking out
for any Rozzers


and you for other kids
who may see her
holding your hand
a kid's got not


to seem a cissy
you understand?

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