In all our days the tower stood,
as school symbol -
a coat of arms for childhood goals,
a memorial to those who
died fighting distant wars.

Its rough, shell stone blocks,
hacked from river cliffs and shipped
on riverboat
and cart to the hilltop,
formed, with buttresses and barred windows,
as a lookout high over the river-city.

Fascinated, we climbed its steps and from its wind-sobbing top
waved to mothers in distant yards
who, not seeing us ,
waved their washing at the vanishing horizon.

Safe among the clouds
we threw balsa planes and laughed to see them drop on rooves
and startle sleeping cats from sun-soaked dreams.

On Guy Fawkes Day we fired rockets, armed with bangers,
in double-happied confusion over the streets.
A celebration of another distant death
forgotten in the myths of history.

As teenagers, it was rumoured that someone,
more daring, had climbed, in moonlight,
using their fingers and determination,
the outer wall, to clamber , scratched and bleeding,
over the final buttress and stand waving,
victorious on the rim.

Nerveless, we balanced on its outer ledge
and, glancing at the park a 100 feet below,
walked, whistling, around the rim
looking too for admiration from those less daring,
their feet still anchored to the ground.

Later, when Raymond had dived,
performing a triple somersault, to his death
the Council built a netting dome
and we, scared now of our mortality,
found new heights to climb in safer times.

Alan Papprill

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