When we were kids, in junior school
in Pembrokeshire, we didn’t do wild
or joyful, didn’t do great and glorious.
We wore limp ties, half-skewed,
over blue-green cotton shirts, grey shorts,
and tugged long, drooping woollen socks.
We hoarded foreign stamps, played marbles,
were drilled in tables, verbs and chalk,
hoofed at a soggy leather football.
There were a few quick early sallies
down the rapids of River Joy, first sounds
maybe of Elvis, first scents of dances,
first date .. but that was soon washed up
on the banks of embarrassment.
One first big joy, first rush of rhapsody,
was our trip to the London Planetarium,
the sunrise scene, to Morning from Peer Gynt,
and the sense of a wondrous opening-out.
The price, as I remember, was a shilling.
First weeks in university. Posters and politics
and arguments over midnight coffee
and then, with such a shot to the emotions,
the new black friends in the hall of residence,
Femi from Nigeria, Zac from Ghana,
Astley from Jamaica. Back home we’d read
of Windrush and Brixton and rioting
and landladies (no dogs, no blacks, no Irish).
Now suddenly these charming, genial men.
The fellowship. The joy of it.
That was October 1960
and it seemed absurdly simple.
Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet whose work has appeared recently in the USA in San Pedro River Review, Main Street Rag, Third Wednesday, Burningword Literary Journal, and many online journals. He has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.