In Memory of Keith Bennett
His eyes, myopic, flash in light,
A challenge sharp as steel
Reverberates in winter air.
The world’s a blur for him, like me.
I see his grin,
Like a boy in my class,
Causes trouble, makes you laugh.
Each Sunday when we go to Mass,
He is waiting.
He’s horror-shrouded, silent-wrapped,
A name not said,
Heads shake in sorrow, children hushed,
The papers crumpled, hidden away,
The warning fingers raised like spikes,
Cut talk, mid-sentence, silence.
No one will say what has happened.
Spring sirens pulse through our estate,
Force into growth
New horrors from the darkest place.
Engines throb threatens, noise pollutes
The very air.
Children pulled in,
As if through locked steel doors,
They too could be erased.
Old enough to learn his name,
I walk to school.
He is still there.
Eyes staring, paper curling,
The building changes, he is gone,
Buried behind the bricks and lost,
I age to learn a mother’s grief,
She stands, a pillar, in rain and snow.
All clocks have stopped for her,
She waits through conmen’s twisted promises,
Through tiny steps of knowledge gained
And facts re-ordered keeps her hope.
Transmuted now, he is more than one,
Becomes all boys that we have failed,
The lost, the broken, the unseen,
Those we have silenced, overlooked,
He is all our failures,
All our boys,
Helen Jones © 2023