the shout

 

We went out
into the school yard together, me and the boy
whose name and face

I don’t remember. We were testing the range
of the human voice :
he had to shout for all he was worth,

I had to raise an arm
from across the divide to signal back
that the sound had carried.

He called from over the park – I lifted an arm.
Out of bounds,
he yelled from the end of the road,

from the foot of the hill,
from beyond the look-out post of Fretwell’s Farm –
I lifted an arm.

He left town, went on to be twenty years dead
with a gunshot hole
in the roof of his mouth, in Western Australia.

Boy with the name and face I don’t remember,
you can stop shouting now, I can still hear you.

 

( Simon Armitage, 2002 )

 

 

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