When you were a child
Were there secret pathways that you followed?
Through the scrub and hawthorn, past the rotting dump
To the railway sidings?
Did you climb into the brambles
Always careful not to choose
The glistening purple fruits
Of deadly nightshade
Masquerading as blackberries?
Did you poke a stick
Into the wasp’s nest
In the orange clay bank?
Did you watch the awesome steam trains
Thunder past –
Breath in the sharp smell
Of burning coal and steam?
Did you avoid the vipers
Sunning themselves by the rusty track?
Did you keep an eye out
Hiding in the bushes along the ridge
And dodge the humming slug
Of air rifle?
Did you follow the high pathway
Across the abandoned brickfields
Along the turf-topped walls
That cornered the pits of dug-out clay?
Did you stare at the rusty carcass
Of the unexploded bomb
No doubt jettisoned
By a returning German bomber
And did you nudge it with your toe
To see if it ticked?