The clay bank marked our world,
the pine edged margin of our school day universe,
sloping sheer to gorse filled gully
and rumoured animal terrors
hidden in the prickled shadows.
Wind curving up the hillside
swirled, created updrafts,
lifts for paper darts, tiny aircraft
flimsy on the air,
which we launched, in time bounded by bells
and yelling competition,
from the tractor track along the bank edge.
We watched as the darts,
folded constructs of a carefully guarded craft,
with lovers' names, ritual numbers, gossip
scrawled on wings,
soared, swooped and climbed
high above the gorse
and then, drifting out of the updrafts,
spiralled down into the gully and its terrors.
The loser, whose darts fell closest to the pines, ran,
sliding down the bank, into the gully,
into the gorse to find and gather
the furtherest darts
and return, clutching the scribbled secrets,
to the safety of the bank
before the bells called us from our worlds
into the classroom noise.

Alan Papprill

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