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Terry Collett

After History With Helen

about Saxons or Vikings
or some such thing
you walked home

from school
with Helen
along St George's Road
the afternoon traffic

hustling and bustling by
and Helen said
that Cogan boy
pulled my plaits

and called me four eyes
and said I looked
like a pug
I think you look pretty

you said
do I?
she said

you replied
and don't mind
about Cogan
you said

tapping your jacket pocket
(where you kept
your six-shooter cap gun)
he said he'd smash my face

but he never does
he's all mouth
and short pants
you said

Helen put her arm
under yours
and squeezed it
nice of you to say

I'm pretty
she said
no one's said that before
and she looked ahead

and you stole a glance
sideward on at her
her plaits held in place
by two rubber bands

her thick lens spectacles
which made her eyes
larger than they were
and her small nose

beneath the bridge
of the wire frame
you looked away
carrying the image of her away

storing it in your mind
and she said
my mum likes you
she said you're not like

the other boys
around here
you said

thinking of her mother
large as life
pushing the big pram
squeezed into

the huge coat
nice of your mum to say
you said
she pulled your arm closer

to her
her dark blue
against your black jacket

you sensed the six-shooter
against your ribs
thinking of Cogan
and firing a cap bang

in the back
of his head
my mum said
I can go

to the cinema
with you
on Saturday morning

Helen said
o good
you said
not caring what

the other boys might say
with her along side you
in the sixpenny seats
you in jeans

and open necked shirt
and she maybe
in that flowered
red dress

white socks
and black battered shoes
sensing her arm
on yours

as you approached
the traffic lights
at the big junction
catching a glimpse

of her smile
as you both crossed
the road
when the lights

turned green
the afternoon sky grey
rain seeming near
smelling it in the air

thinking of Helen
and of a snatched kiss
but you didn't think so
or didn't dare.

Submitted: Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Edited: Tuesday, March 19, 2013

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