Patrick Sandford, United Kingdom

'Just tickling', but his grasp betrays the lie.
Outside, the playground squeals its playground fears.
He splays the me-child, flesh against his thigh,
Manoeuvres that shame shudder down my years.
The nature study jam-jars wink: I spy!
Bewilderment throat-retches into tears.
'Thank you'. He thanks me! Knowing no-one knows
Nor must, I tiptoe-flee, pretend to play,
Then work, smile, work, and up the goody goes -
Top of the class to teatime shine the day.
The teacher tends his purpose; nothing shows;
Un-crease the child, use, re-use, toss away.
My smile survives, until in middle age
I'll shift the slab, and liberate the Rage.

Author Statement

At playtime, my Primary School Teacher used to ask me to stay behind in the classroom to refresh the water in the nature-study jam-jars, or to change the posters on the classroom
walls. These were pretexts to enable his abuse. This was the first poem I wrote about my
abuse. I was afraid, mostly that the emotion might be overwhelming, so without setting out
to do so I found myself writing in the tight form of a sonnet. it just came out like that. I
learned about sonnets at Secondary School. I spy! was a children’s game.


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