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After a poem by Roland Flint. 

read by the author

Susan and Billy and Helen and me
Went climbing. We got apples.
We got a bucket of sloppy lemons
And whammed them against the chicken-shed.
With every whump 
The chickens went crazy.
Helen ran home and stole some cakes
From a secret jar in her mother’s place.
Billy got sick and we showed him how
By poking your fingers down.

We went to the river and cut the rope
That tied my uncle’s rowing boat
And shoved it out with a branch.
The current pulled us down a mile
Before we got back to the bank.
Billy was white.
We left the boat in the mouth of a creek
And hurried home, and once I yelled:
Shut up, Susan, it was all our faults.

Behind the shed in the raspberry canes
We got undressed and looked at ourselves.
Helen’s tits were bigger than Susan’s.
I got all stiff and Billy tried too,
Then Helen and I ran off.
I kissed her a lot in the dust and grass
And knocked her glasses off. Her little
Red thing looked like a wound and
She closed her eyes. My hand
Smelled salty all afternoon.

Billy and Susan found us there,
Their eyes went down:
What were you doing, we looked for you?

We came down here to  — talk for a while.
Wanna go swimming?
        Yeah, let’s go!

Susan and Billy and Helen and me
Went swimming. We had the sand to ourselves.
We dived and ducked all afternoon,
We dived and ducked till the water
Went like a mirror, then went black,
And we were cold — cold as a bullfrog
Billy said.

We all climbed into our pants and shirts
And raced to the shed to get our shanghais.
I heard my uncle’s car in the drive
And Billy whispered, let’s hide from him.
We climbed in the shed among the rafters
Old tractor-bits and milk-machines
Where the spiders grow. We found
A basket of mouldy eggs and a giant
Freezer, and climbed in there
To hide from him.

Helen smelled salty and Susan shivered
So I held us all and kicked at the door,
And nothing moved, and I said
Nothing in the dark.

Susan and Billy and Helen and me
Went climbing. The apples
Shone in our hands, the lemons
Bammed on the chicken-shed. And once
I swam to the top of the tree
And saw the river winding out to the sky.
Then Billy dragged me down.
                                           We slid
Like fish in the yellow water and then
My uncle came and I said We
Stole your apples
and he looked strange
As he picked me up, his mouth was
Swimming but I couldn’t hear him Oh

Susan and Billy and Helen and me
Went climbing the water ran fast
Through the yellow apples and Susan
Grabbed me and Billy screamed
We’ll never— and then his breathing
Stopped and the black thing came.

And then you opened the door
On Susan and Billy and Helen and me
And then you opened the door
And Susan and Billy and Helen and me
Were high in the apple-tree, and we
Were dreaming.