The Register

From The Years (Arc Publications, £8)


I can still see them all, as if they’d just

gathered in red and grey for morning roll call

and fifty-five long years had never passed.


Walwyn who says little and spends his spare time

winding wire round gaudy plumes to hook

imaginary fish. Barnes from Tripoli plagued by


asthma who has a seraphic singing voice.

Rana, the athlete from Nepal, now stocky but

somehow the same, exporting cigarettes


and tyres to China. Timmi, a gentle Yoruba,

the tallest boy by far, who died of AIDS

seven years ago, a famous photographer.


Griffin, hard to look at he was so

unbearably beautiful, who once stopped me on the stairs

and decided “You don’t like me, do you?”


I hadn’t the heart to say it wasn’t so.

I can still see their names engraved in the register:

Lashkari, Maw, Sajadhi, Sewell, Singh –


the hockey captain who was spared the barber.

We all began in gladness regardless of

the louring prisonhouse we’d been confined in.