Derek said
she smells peculiar
and don't she's
brush her hair?


I was standing with him
in the playground
by the steps
that went down


into the bombed out
cellar of a house
which was where
the playground was


I like her
I said
watching her walk
hesitantly around


the groups
of boys and girls
in game or conversation
bet she's got


lice or fleas
or whatever
he said
she's got an old man


who beats her
and a mother
who doesn't care
I said


well she could at least
wash properly
he said
despite the hardship


and such
my mother
let her bathe
at our place


the other Sunday night
I said
didn't find
no lice or fleas


she had said
just dirt and grime
you didn't bathe
with her then?


Derek said laughing
no she bathed alone
my mother making sure
she was washing ok


Derek looked over at her
still smells peculiar
he said
it's the soap


we gave her
to take home
I guess
fancy a game


of cards?
he said
taking  football cards
out of his back pocket


I said
and so we went down
by a vacant wall


and flicked our cards
to see got nearest
the wall and see
who won


whose cards
but out
of the corner
of my eye


I saw Ingrid
walking about
the playground
her dull flower


patterned dress
having seen
better days
her scuffed shoes


shyly making tread
should be with her
I thought
but carried on


playing cards
with Derek instead.

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