Tom Boy

by Majella Kelly


Come, climb the tall scot's pine in the churchyard 

with me. We’ll watch them go in to half eleven mass.

Just don’t let Auntie Lil see you when she rings the bell.


Here, you can wear my Spiderman t-shirt; I like to climb 

bare-chested, feel the twigs tangle in the ringlets 

my mother makes me wear. I’ll show you how to get 


up onto the flat roof of the sacristy, see how warm the tar-

black felt is under your thighs. Loll with me here for hours 

against the pebble-dashery, until it’s time to go top & tail 


black-currants for Dolie O'Shea. We can play pitch & toss 

against the old school wall with the coppers she gives us. 

Dare you to crawl under the bridge into the big cement pipe 


where The Glen trickles under Lizzy Murphy's boreen. 

C’mon, I’ll race you! Bet I taste like Moroney’s penny sweets 

in your mouth and that first fizz of 7up up your nose. 


Feel the weight of this ingot wafer-full of raspberry ripple 

and Neapolitan ice-cream. I’ll give you some if you come 

inside my forest fort. I’ll show you my green fern bed.


If only I could climb or crawl back far enough, I’d paint 

over the grazed knees of your childhood with Mecuricome, 

the deepest of antiseptic reds, and I’d tell you everything 


was going to be all right.