The boy who didn’t want to be there (Cornwall March 2001) by Ralph de Smit

The palms on the platform at Lostwithiel
shivered in the gusting winds of March,
barely nurtured by a pale mid-day sun.
We read Harry Potter all the way to Penzance.

It was brighter there, but no warmer.
Bought an alarm clock at Woolworth’s
to know the time for the last train back
and then went down to the Promenade.

The windswept waves crashed the seawall.
Despite the cold he ran through the spray.
We had tea at a run-down sea front hotel,
warming up by the window, watching the waves.

By the Jubilee Baths—closed for the season—
we clambered down to the rocks with the gulls,
poking tiny crabs the birds hadn’t seen,
and gazed at St Michael’s Mount across the bay.

We had a snack at the Renaissance Café.
The service was slow, he picked at his food.
And then we had to run to catch the train.
He read the Harry Potter on his own.

Back in the room above the Talbot Arms,
I gave him a bath and put him to bed,
read him the last of the Chamber of Secrets
and sat by the window till he fell asleep.

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