Pastoral care (1969)
"Right you lot, French, room 28, but all
these boys should make their way down to the hall
instead." Yet as we listened to the names
they made no sense: they weren't all good at games;
they weren't the swots, the lickers or the twits.
Was it the stick? But why? Or was it nits?
All through the Qu'est-ce que c'est and Je m'appelle
we sought the nunc dimittis of the bell
that rang to reunite us, sheep and goats;
the sheep now rather stunned, and clutching notes
typed badly, xeroxed, stapled, pressed upon
them by a priest and one attendant nun.
Strong stuff it was, to dazzle and perplex
a twelve-year old. What was this thing called sex?
Just who could solve its mystery?
And would it make a fool of me?
(The answer, not forthcoming then, was Yes.
Had I been asked, that would have been my guess.)
The objects of this special care seemed now
estranged from us, and chosen - touched, somehow.
I felt excluded. And impressed? You bet.
For such a love as this, so great and yet
so partial, not for every mother's son,
God bless the Pope. God bless us every one.
If you have any thoughts on this poem, David Callin would
be pleased to hear them.