The Uses of Mown Grass

Once we've heard the sleepy rattle of the cutters,
we're a class of children in a summer classroom,
but our minds have already all run out
to the field beyond the playground,

so there's no point, Miss, in trying to keep
our attention on adding up and taking away,
leaving a finger space, or Janet and John:
we're busy making our plans for later.

Some of us will mark out the rooms of houses:
neat lines of cuttings, with a gap for a window,
another for the front door,
so we can invite the neighbours in for tea.

Some will make ocean liners, or space rockets;
and argue incessantly about the design,
which has most room, or goes fastest
and whether Darrell Bowser should be allowed on board.

Others will pile it up like miser's gold.
Never satisfied with what they collect themselves,
they'll pinch your kitchen wall, or mast, or booster,
if you don't keep an eye out for them.

It's warmer than snow, more fragrant,
but it doesn't stick together as well:
so the air, when the battle starts,
will be thick with green confetti.

There will be squadrons of aeroplanes,
a green fragmentation bomb in each outstretched fist.
And there will be one who stuffs it down the back
of Julie Parfitt's dress, mixed with nettles.

© Peter Howard

first published in the South Warnborough Poetry Competition Anthology 1998