Rat Immortal

Rat! A rat!
That unseelie presence that lingered at the margins
Of crepe-lined classrooms in a Douglas suburb.
We were warned against the black boxes
That squatted in yard-corners,
But no shape broke the pastel peace for weeks on end.

Oh, but the day you showed your face
Was well timed, my boy –
No such cheers or upturned faces
(O the genuine joy of it!)
No encouraging bellows, such a delightful
Ever greeted another of your gang, I’d say
For sure
That day
You stood atop the red roof-slates
And we like disciples followed you,
A tiny lean messiah capering in the clouds.
In the crowd of screaming children
I raised my hands with them and screamed too
And dreamt that I might stand
One day
On a school roof
Stare down disgust
(And Mrs. Fowler’s flailing broom)
Filthy and defiant.