H is for Having
Updated: Jul 24, 2021
I sought permission when she wasn’t really listening,
Knew exactly what I was doing,
And on the basis of that one, vacant, conscience-appeasing, “Yes dear”,
Gathered my weekly, copper harvest
From the powdery, school-clay pot on the mantlepiece
For years to come.
I hid the pennies
In pockets, up sleeves, down socks,
Stashed them in savings accounts (under the bed)
And waited for the
“Can we go to the park by ourselves?” we’d ask,
With eyes that knew holes of conspiracy deep in the pupils of the other,
Then filling our socks and pockets and sleeves before
Coming downstairs as smooth as a pussycat
To make sure we didn’t jangle.
We’d wave goodbye and promise to be careful,
Striding so cool up the street in a feign of adult confidence
Before turning in a flash to dodge back down
Scurrying, jangling into the cornershop.
The Lookout was essential:
We took turns to exchange precious metal gleanings for Freddos
And Curly-Whirlys and crinkled paper bags of jellied, sugary goodness.
“Have you got anything sour?”
But it was bad luck if the Lookout called:
Then hastily paying we’d sprint the
Half-a-mile Long-way-round along forbidden main roads
And through no-go housing estates
Before arriving sweaty, swearing never to do it again,
And victorious and bursting with adrenaline and pride, at
And there at last,
On haven swings
We’d share our treats, hard won:
The secret rewards of our labour.
The challenge then was to Have:
A feat that produced planning, determination, secret methods of communication
And a surprising skill at cross-country running.
Now I count money in numbers on a screen
And measure it in pounds not stacks of p’s.
The challenge today is to Not Have;
And with determination redirected,
Who knows what that could give rise to?