Teacher-sized umbrella-beetles watched us
Scurry up the neat path, their monstrous
Fact-boulders of tomb-stone rain: howling,
Thundering, giving us their pain; scowling,
Tortured souls, forced to dance like Saint Vitus’;
Leaving us to wade through their detritus.
The incessant tolling of the bell,
The rank, farmyard smell of steaming wool
Of cow and bull, soggy sock, scarf and sweater
Being slow-smoked by the only heater.
Tough boys shivered in soaked trousers and shirts;
Flushed girls tried to hide wet blouses and skirts;
As time riffed its old paraffin-flamed blues
And weathered chalk-tide-marks into young shoes.
M R McBride