Sex in Liverpool City
(Three Poems on School Age Sex Abuse)
An empty road by All Saints Primary,
a school in Liverpool in 1960 –
I guess. I was maybe nine or ten.
Let’s say it’s Monday. I’m anxious and late. A man
smiles towards me. Not much bigger than me,
he wants to look jolly: a balding head, veined nose.
He shows me photos from inside his coat.
Ordinary women, indoors, without clothes,
monochrome. To me, he seems to gloat.
I’m sure he said to me: “like your mum”
and “sixpence for one” — I think — my mem’ry’s numb.
Tuesday, same thing, late and scared to go in,
to face the faces. The man’s there. The gate
grows welcoming. — Wednesday, I’m not late.
I ate in the Dinning Room every day.
I don’t remember the food. However, the way
the head of art touched our “buns”, I do.
Not daily, but enough to get used to.
I cringe as I recall that background creepy
hands on trousers in that all-boy school.
The bottom-touching that became the rule
was partly laughed at, it was so daft, so odd.
But so accepted by the Jesuit squad
— school head and deputy and senior staff
were priests. Though they did not do these things
they had poor insight to the hurt it brings.
I’m sure this carried on when I had left.
But I’ve never checked — I just left.
… in a public toilet in Stanley Park;
… in a reserve match at Anfield football ground;
… in a van by the M1 motorway;
… in the front hall of my best friend’s home;
… sunlight streaming windows, or after dark,
… locked in fear (unable to turn round),
… mostly nothing said – nothing to say,
… when discovered, shut from my friend’s home …
my ‘normal’ was an anxious, seasick norm –
no firm friend’s markers, pointers, only mine –
no siblings’ helpful sign, no script design –
no parents’ definition, guide, or form.
Because ‘The child is father of the Man’
I keep this boy as cared-for as I can.