Terry Collett

Gold Star - 23,291 Points (13/12/1947 / LONDON)

Marks Of Sin - Poem by Terry Collett

You waited for Fay
by the entrance
of the outdoor
swimming pool

in Bedlam Park
the Saturday afternoon sun
still strong
the voices and screams

of the kids in the pool
coming through
the high hedge
that surrounded all

around except where
the entrance was
with its turnstiles
and changing rooms

and wire boxes
where kids
kept their clothes
Pete Badham and his cronies

had gone by and in
a few minutes before
giving you the hard stare
which you returned

with equal share
you wondered if Fay's father
had stopped her going
finding some passage

in the Bible that he claimed
made it a sin
or maybe she had been kept in
for some misdemeanour

but then you saw her
coming through the park
in a blue dress
with a white towel

wrapped under an arm
thought you might not come
you said as she came
to the entrance

Mum let me come
after Daddy'd gone
off to work
she said

she opened a hand
to show the coins
held there
her eyes you noticed

were red
as if she'd been crying
glad you're here
you said

me too
she replied
and you both went in
each to the separate areas

for boys and girls
once you had changed
and put your clothes
in the wire box

you went out
to the pool
and dived in
the cool water

and waited for Fay
to come in
Dave Walker was there
at the deep end

keeping an eye
on Badham and his cronies
giving you the thumbs up
when Fay came out

she stood hesitant
on the edge
of the pool
dressed in her black

swimming costume
come on in
you called and waved
she climbed down

into the water
and swam towards you
her fair hair
darkened by the water

her legs flapping
behind her
as she swam
her hands pushing through

the water's skin
as she came to you
she put her arms
around your neck

her damp face
close to yours
you put your arms
around her waist

and she winced
and you let go
what's up?
you asked

she said
just a bruise
and she swam off

to the edge of the pool
and you followed her
and she pulled herself
onto the edge

and sat there
looking out
at the other kids swimming
you heaved yourself

onto the edge of the pool
beside her
she looked away
towards the high hedge

and you noticed
thin red marks
on her thigh
what's that?

you asked
pointing to her thigh
sign I have sinned
she whispered

Daddy said
to show the flesh
is a sin
and wouldn't let me come

and I answered him back
and he made the mark of
me having sinned
she stared at you

and touched your hand
say nothing to anyone
she said

you said
let's go swim
she said

and dived in again
you seeing
the red marks
and sensing the pain.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, August 30, 2012

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