We stood aside

 

 

Raggedy all raggedy raggedy

Raggedy here they come

 

We stood aside in silence as they passed

The jostling, the slagging, the sucking of toffee stopped

And we stepped back off the pavement

 

Like watching a funeral cortege

Or a condemned man in hand-cuffs

We instinctively recoiled in primitive fear

From this alien spectacle

A pint-sized parade - from Auschwitz

The Home Babies, on their way to school

 

Two by two, pale face snotty noses

Little kids, their scabby heads shorn

No socks, no smiles, no chatter

The only sound scraping and clattering

Them ould hand-me-down boots clattering

Ill-fitting untied boots clattering down

The boots all clattering down

 

Uniform shapeless clothes

Some kind of dark petticoats

Sickly browny yellowy green sheen off of them

 

Holding hands and walking briskly

Looking straight ahead

They passed down

 

Raggedy all raggedy raggedy

Raggedy here they come

 

 

We resumed our boyhood as if nothing had happened.