To David, 5½

Boy, you have heard of good and bad,
of the barrage of gunfire and the grand bible,
of the nails of the crucifix and Christ’s name,
of the crossfire of bandits, of bombs in London;
but you tire the green hill with your running.

And letters untwist themselves, and numbers like new recruits
march in unsteady drill, and colours filch shape
on white paper presented by a loose-leaf imagination . . .
and yesterday you picked daisies and dandelions for your mother
on the green hill after running.

But you have not yet heard the clouds break about your head
with the controlled thunder of evil incarnate
smashing, like a box, what you grew up in:
that storm has often haunted me
that blots out your childhood running,

makes the hill black, and bulldozes down
memories of grass and circling dragonflies . . .
when good and bad explode in your face you, like other adults
will find the track narrower than the hill, trickier,
dirtier, more like a dead end. Boy, you have not heard of
the hell that hacks down running.

But yesterday as you made re-acquaintance with the turf
at the back of your grandfather’s house by the sea,
the high hill and the sky determined between them
that it was good to have a child around. Clear luck attend your future,
they sent a wind to say, the world’s the right place to be born in.
My fears for the future were admonished as I listened.
You had not heard: you were running.

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