Hide and Seek by Vernon Scannell

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.
It’s 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?

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One comment on “Hide and Seek by Vernon Scannell
  1. Profile photo of Felicity Hale says:

    The poet talks to the boy, giving him advice that he should curl himself so that his feet aren’t visible from behind the sacks of sand he is hiding between; and also cautions him that if he shouts again he will risk drawing attention to his hiding spot. Another difficulty presents itself in the form of the cold floor, but it is immediately over ridden by the thought that the children who are seeking the boy will be searching near the bushes, the poet again advises the boy that he must be careful not to sneeze when and if they come searching for him in the tool shed. The seekers do come and the boy hears them mutter and stumble, awing at the fact that the thought of victory has made the usually loud boys quiet.

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