Boy With A Knife

by Vicki Feaver

He was standing in the middle
of the field, throwing a knife
from hand to hand: the boy

Mr Marshall brought down
at weekends – whispered
to be let out from a borstal.

We heard thumps and squeals
coming from their caravan.
I was told to keep away from him.

But I liked wounded things:
a baby rabbit the cat brought in;
birds with broken wings.

As I got closer, he aimed the knife
into a clump of Lady’s Smock,
spearing a frog.

‘Present,’ he said,
dangling it by the leg.
He looked down at my feet:

at sandals I’d woven from reeds
to look like the Roman sandals
in my history book;

at bare toes like a row
of tiny bald creatures
pleading for their lives.