We saw all of it
Kids bullying kids for being simple, or simply doing sums,
the waiting gates for bully-dads and bully-mums,
Kids rating kids on their ‘things’ and their looks,
in the library making out (and taking out anything but books).
Kids telling kids to do it or don’t do it
and those pretending not to know, even when they knew it.
This is what we saw as we peeped from our tower
at kids spilling like mustard seeds, brown and yellow,
out the school gates and into the orchard below.
I pictured the oranges, how the children never touched them,
never even tried, and how it felt to be shaken only by
the hands of the wind and only hit by the light, just right,
a shine on their curve, as if each one held a moon inside.
A knot formed in my throat as I watched on, out of earshot,
wondering what they’d say, day and night;
the kids to other kids, the trees to their baubles
and over time the garden grew and the knot there thickened
as we waited for a child to prod, punch or pick them.
But they listened to their fathers and mothers, and stayed away.
I prayed one day they’d do the same for each other,
ask before they hit, rough-and-tumbled, touched, shook
and leave what isn’t theirs like the fruit,
like the undiscovered dust-covered library books.
ABBIE NEALE’s poetry has appeared in Strix Magazine, The North, Whirlagust, Playground Poems and Abridged. Her pamphlet Threadbare is due to be published by the Poetry Business in 2020.