Wednesday 22 August 2018

The Pig-man

The tide of war retreated across the suburbs

leaving gas-masks in attics, a man with one leg

on the bench by the library, an air-raid shelter

in the park which one day, the kid with the

most nerve took us down and where we found

beds and broken bottles and imagined a life of

riley back in the days just before we were born.

After all we could go to the Empire restaurant

that had survived the war too, along with talk of

doodlebugs and uncles who disappeared in

places I couldn’t pronounce. The internet has

unearthed other leavings: piggeries. Sited, they

said on scrubland or in unused corners of parks

and I remembered how, amongst the nettles and

brambles, behind a fence made of old doors and

prams, in the air-raid shelter park, a red-faced man

in a dung-coloured coat, stood by a corrugated

sty, in the midst of stink. We called him the pig-man

and after our explorations in the dumps and streams

just as the lamplighter on his bike cycled round

pulling the lever with his pole and hook, so that

the gas mantles fizzed and lit, we hiked through

the nettles to get a look at the pig-man. We

cackled at him, as if he had no place in our park,

and this would rouse him to tell us to clear off out of it,

which made us cackle all the more till we hacked

our way out and left him with his pig, never

knowing that he had been part of what our

teachers called the war-effort.