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She flashed alive in a fight, as if circling me in some
cold car park, rolling a knife from hand to hand,
dabbing the air with it. Even her face was drawn
and bladed, as if this was her moment—the one
she’d been waiting for—and she grew thin
and sharp and accurate, all quickness and glint.
Anybody watching might have thought her
a bacchante or a butcher, but you couldn’t be sure.
 
It was always a blur; the way I remember that time
behind the science block, curled up on the concrete:
the four of them all stood there, around me, kicking,
and me thinking only about the small glass bottle
of milk in my pocket, which my mother had put there
as I left, as I set off for school.

Robin Robertson’s recent books include the collection The Wrecking Light (2010) and The Deleted World (2011), versions of poems by the 2011 Nobel laureate Tomas Tranströmer. He lives in London.
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