we called it the Feeder
a tiny hungry stream
that danced behind my old school
while we sat in class
learning about verbs
I often wondered how far it travelled
and how many back gardens it watched.
In winter it would freeze,
And there were all sorts of stories
about somebody who knew somebody
who was a victim -
like Jenny Cambell from 4B
she said it had Jackie Shannon's older brother
He bunked first lesson
For the occasion
no sniggers or bullies to push him over
just him and the polished playground.
After stumbling and sliding for a while
he drifted to the middle,
and noticed his strung-along laces.
He kissed his teeth
as he crouched down to tie them
but before he could even reach the first shoe
the Feeder kiss its teeth at him.
The Feeder cracked open its mouth
and Jackie's brother's legs
slipped down into its freezing saliva,
he thrashed his arms;
desperately trying to grip the cold air,
that had earlier teased his nose and ears.
But nothing could save him
no one knew he was there -
it was their secret,
so alone he screamed,
and alone he fell
digested whole by the Feeder.
He was only 10 years old.
School banned us from going near it
but we didn't listen
its whispers would pass through each classroom
each term and each year.
So, after being dared
and double dared
we'd skip class to play with our lives,
and there it would lie
cold and crisp,
waiting for our feet,
holding beautiful colours in its reflection of us.