Polar Bears in the School Hall
The boy can’t be more than four feet tall: in short grey
trousers and shirt, blue rims on glasses he’ll outgrow,
gloves on his hands - are they gardeners or goalkeepers? -
he leans on an open fire door with his back to the sun.
She has drawn him in with a poem about polar bears.
Does he see the tundra, can he hear the Artic wind roar,
or is it the music of her tone and her gentle inflection
that offers him a salve from the heat in the schoolyard?
Dust cascades around him in a shaft of midday light and
she tells her tale of the North Pole, its bears, and ice.
An image in an East End print shop:
a boy with a makeshift cape casts
a cubist shadow - reds and blues -
against the wall.
It sends me back to a Christmas,
or maybe a birthday, when on the
stairs at Liam Healy Road he
asked to try the costume.
I hid my reluctance behind concern:
it’s six and up - are you old enough?
He was. I had to yield the cape.
It fits him just as well and he
leaps from the third step bold as any Man of Steel.
Now he’s by the Lee, rod at his side,
his ageing and ageless form crafted
by his brother’s hands from a
single block of wood - an
oaken memorial of a fishing trip
cut short. They had to pull him
out at Thomas Davis Bridge -
no cape to billow when he fell.