Adolescence forced us to schools
more distant than our macrocarpa'ed universe,
where, divided by uniforms, we learnt
confusions of french verbs, latin declensions
and obscure facts deemed necessary for later lives.

Balanced on bikes, made clumsy
with book-filled suitcases,
we sped in formula one frenzies, down the hill,
passing cars and brake cautious adults,
to glide past Red Lion, garages and Dairy
across the bridge into the city
and pedal crazily to emerging destinies.

Returning, we crowded, a scrum of bikes and noise,
into the tunnel
to be lifted,
under Clarry's critical eye to the summit and familiar security.

Waiting below the hill, the slow wind of the tunnel,
held hints of those who'd gone before,
the powdered perfume of women
pushing milk smelling babies into town,
the bay-rummed hair of men hurrying to work,
and, depending on the season,
the confusion of chlorined swimmers, soap scented girls
and muddied footballers with steaming winter damp socks .

Here we teased, argued and watched
our status changing
along the crayon scrawled endearments and faded ads of the tunnel walls.
To be packed body to body, thought to thought,
and disappear in the rattling cage, the concrete grey of the shaft,
and final release in the sunlight of the hill.

Alan Papprill

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