St Edmunds

I have washed downstairs in
a cold, functional corridor — the wash block.
And now I am permitted to walk around with only a jacket
to cover the nakedness of my chest.

Soon, I will know that tiny moment when the body is confused between pain and ecstasy.
I have been talking or eating
in those areas where talking and eating are offences punishable by caning.
I watch from a distance I have discovered inside myself.

At night,
the Devil walks the corridors of this place,
A huge black insect
given substance from the sweated essence
of each boy’s secret anguish.

He is looking for
someone whose eyes will widen at His darkness.
Some boy who is still small, not yet cold and closed.
He will lie on top of the young body, sucking into himself.
While the boy tries,
until the last moment, to hold his mouth up where the air is.

In the morning,
the bell will sound loudly
next to any sleeping heads that have not already been called to prayer
and we will pretend not to notice the empty bed.

Jim Conwell (UK)

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