Who is the boy who stands there
holding his father’s hand,
in his new school blazer,
wary, awkward, tanned?

Both of them in shorts
under the Maltese sun,
both forever caught
in an image neither one

expected would be all
to survive from those dead years,
as though clicking on an icon
to a world of disappeared

questions and emotions
that day kept at bay
but which now I understand
never go away

although we learn to live
as actors, faking rules
to fool ourselves life’s just
a long sequence of schools

at the end of which we’ll pose
as graduates, calm and wise,
not staring at the lens
with troubled, truthful eyes.

Tom Vaughan

From the early 1950s to the 1970s RNS Verdala was the school attended by many of
the children of Royal Navy families based in Malta. It is now an international school.
If you have any thoughts on this poem, Tom Vaughan would be pleased to hear them.