A Walk Through the Infinite
A Walk Through the Infinite
What have they done to our old school?
Built over our memories, that’s what.
Concrete and wood laid over our childhood,
Asphyxiating our earliest school days.
Feel the anger, feel the sadness,
Of the long-departed children whose voices only linger
In the supreme surreality of our minds.
The oak tree in a quiet corner of the garden,
That’s where, when I was ten, a shaved-head thug
In bowler hat and coat -- a sinister parody of respectability --
Whipped me till I cried with a soft yet vicious branch.
New faces, new bodies, scream over the asphalt pitch,
Scuffed trainers obliterating our time-faded footprints from years before,
As our carefree, youthful feet etched out an intricate web on the blackness below.
Look how the buildings have changed!
Always unlocked and welcoming,
The front door now stands determinedly shut,
Protected by the steel gaze of a CCTV camera
Mounted high up the sheer, brick wall,
Watching all who come and go,
Watching with a chilling implacability.
A panel of buttons, a loudspeaker and a concealed microphone
Underscore our new and unfamiliar status as visitors,
Even though we used to rush through this very door
Without a heartbeat’s pause or thought, across the years,
On our way to the French room on the second floor,
Creeping swiftly up the varnished, main staircase,
Every sense alert, every muscle taut with tension
And the thrill of the forbidden.
Where have those days gone, with their comfort and reassurance?
Replaced by doubt, fear and the unconscious knowledge
That it is time to put away childish things
And begin the journey to the outlands of unshielded life,
Facing down the Threshold Guardians of this infinite wilderness,
Watching out for Shapeshifters and Tricksters,
Sheltering from the violent rockstorms that scourge this land.
When we approach the Innermost Cave an eternity later,
We long for the innocent days of immaturity
That vanished with the impotence of childhood.
See the carpet now lining the corridor.
Recall the cold, bare floor slapping our naked feet
Whenever we scampered, chattering, to the gym.
Inhale our exhilaration when it was time for a swim,
Hear the phantom sound of a myriad chairs scraping polished floor
At the end of each impatient day.
See our slow-burning dread, a twisting flame in a gale,
When we left our English prep at home one day,
Strain your ears to hear the red scratching of the detention pen,
Hug our bitterness when our hair-torn prep is mocked
In sarcastic tones by one indifferent to our pain.
But grieve not for these lost moments of irreplaceable childhood,
For with the coming of maturity
We hold in our hands something far more valuable:
The freedom to carve out our destiny
With the tools that have grown inside us all our lives.