Walking from school is a consummate art:
Which route to follow to avoid the gangs,
Which paths to find that lead, circuitous,
To leafy squirrel haunts and plopping ponds,
For dreams of Archibald and Tiger Tim;
Which hiding place is safe, and when it is;
What time to leave to dodge the enemy.
I only once was trapped. I knew the trap –
I heard it in their tones: “Walk back with us.”
I knew they weren’t my friends; but that soft voice
Wheedled me from my route to cold Swain’s Lane.
There in a holly bush they threw me down,
Pulled off my shorts, and laughed and ran away;
And, as I struggled up, I saw grey brick,
The cemetery railings and the tomb.
- by — John Betjeman
- John Betjeman Poetry at Amazon.com