Head of the River


           Lowgill took me back



Seated near the Bowland brook

teased  by runes of wrinkled shade
I was in class again


counted as one to whom no regard

was best given – dyslexic we’d say now,

shiftless then.


Nibs always bent, blots ruled okay.

Because I could not write, my heart hurt;

my backside too.


What saved me at school

were the high windows – square kites –

steadfast blue visited by white.


I understood Kent’s River Stour –

sailed my mind’s eye along it each day

from Westmarsh to Durnock.


If only they’d ask me to read aloud

its cordovan banks, hump-backed bridges,

slow cursive bends.


Paper words – second nature to my peers –

were rivers too, oxbow islands,

inlets with no landing stage.



Phil Burton from his book Too Young to Forget


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