Hide and Seek


Call out. Call loud: ‘I’m ready! Come and find me!’

The sacks in the toolshed smell like the seaside.

They’ll never find you in this salty dark,

But be careful that your feet aren’t sticking out.

Wiser not to risk another shout.

The floor is cold. They’ll probably be searching

The bushes near the swing. Whatever happens

You mustn’t sneeze when they come prowling in.

And here they are, whispering at the door;

You’ve never heard them sound so hushed before.

Don’t breathe. Don’t move. Stay dumb. Hide in your blindness.

They’re moving closer, someone stumbles, mutters;

Their words and laughter scuffle, and they’re gone.

But don’t come out just yet; they’ll try the lane

And then the greenhouse and back here again.

They must be thinking that you’re very clever,

Getting more puzzled as they search all over.

It seems a long time since they went away.

Your legs are stiff, the cold bites through your coat;

The dark damp smell of sand moves in your throat.

Its time to let them know that you’re the winner.

Push off the sacks. Uncurl and stretch. That’s better!

Out of the shed and call to them: ‘I’ve won!

Here I am! Come and own up I’ve caught you!’

The darkening garden watches. Nothing stirs.

The bushes hold their breath; the sun is gone.

Yes, here you are. But where are they who sought you?


Vernon Scannell