the barrel



at primary school

i had a friend who lived on a farm

one weekend i went over to his

to play games, boy stuff, piss about


the grass was long, the sheds were old and empty

the world seemed very big, very alien

green, white and metallic colours

inhabited this martian landscape


we came across a barrel, living in a small hole

surrounded by liquid

i was dared to jump on it and across to safety

i thought it looked quite happy on its own


now i can’t remember whether my friend

actually jumped on it to the other side

but it was my turn, so i took the jump

and slightly mistimed my attempt


this misjudgement resulted in quite a shock

and a sudden realisation that I was neither

surrounded by air or on the other side

whilst trying to keep my head above water

i was frantically searching for an exit

but i could only see stinging nettles

fields of them as far as the eye could see

i eventually noticed that getting out would

require getting stung so i chose the closest exit

grabbed the nettles and pulled myself out


i don’t remember showering but i guess i did

a change of clothes and suddenly sitting inside

nettle stings all over my hands and legs

and the beginnings of a cold


i later found out that my friend

never expected me to take

the jump and that id been flailing and

bobbing around in pig shit and piss


no wonder his mum used to grin at me

in that way she didn’t to others

i dont know whether it was shame but

i never did go back



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