You never talked about cowboys
or shootouts with Fay.

She was the girl
in the apartment above

who lived with her mum and dad
and younger brother.

You sat next to her
on the bus

your hands wanting to reach out
and touch hers.

You didn’t
but held them in check

like hounds ready
for the chase.

She was about your age
eleven or so

give or take a few months
and she had long blonde hair

which her mother
sometimes braided

sometimes not.
What do you do

in your spare time?
She asked.

Oh you know
play about

on the bombed out buildings
or bombsites

or go swimming
or play ball with friends

you said.
She nodded and looked away.

There was a bruise
on her neck

where her hair parted
and sometimes

when you put your hand
on her shoulder

she’d wince
and move away.

But not that day.
That day she let it stay

and even tapped
your hand with hers.

She turned around
and faced you

her eyes filled with tears
like flooded cities

the blue islands
of her pupils

seemingly swimming
against the tide.

We’re moving away
she said.

Where? You asked.
Somewhere far away.

Won’t see you anymore
she said.

The bus drew up
at your stop

and you got off
and the bus drove away

and you saw her hand
wave at the window.

You never saw her again
or heard how she did

in later years
or if her father still beat her

as Mother said he had.
Sometimes you still saw her

waving goodbye
in your dreams at night.

The bus going over the hill
and your heart pounding

with a misshaped
small boy love still.


Terry Collett

Horsham, United Kingdom

  • Artist
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