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The Poetry Place

Hitcher

Friday, 9 November 2007 15:06:16

Friday, 9 November 2007 15:06:16

I picked him up
He was following my gaze
Not old enough for toothbrush or bed. A cot
Was all we had. The tooth we knew
Was what grieved him, not
Any wicked intent. But
I let him have it.
Shook him, shook him, swore
In his face. Unnerved, I dropped him.

I leant across. Saw him dribble. Saw me in his eyes.
Saw him earlier, bouncing, eyes alive.
We were an age apart
But we were, are, the same flesh.
I’ve never felt anything like
His fingers, hanging on my hair.
He is inert, his hair is fair -
I remember thinking
Social services will soon be here.

 

 



Hitcher

Friday, 9 November 2007 15:06:16

Friday, 9 November 2007 15:06:16
Simon Armitage's poems are often intriguing. Sometimes downright irritating. Recently I was looking at 'Homecoming' and you can see some thoughts and teaching suggestions in the Workshop. Now I'm wondering, what's going on in 'Hitcher'?
 
The narrator is a hitch-hiker too - but why does he have a hired car? More importantly, why does he pick up the hitch-hiker?  Why, if you felt as he did, would you do that? It seems to me an even bigger question than why did he kill him?
 
How could I get into this poem?  Perhaps by trying to empathise with someone in a mind-snapping situation.
 
Who is more tired and stretched to the limit than a new mother? The incessant calls on her attention, her love? And without sleep, without respite, we snap.  Perhaps like the voice in Armitage’s poem. And we do something in a moment we will later regret. Or we hope the driver will regret. I have more empathy with the mother than I do the narrator in 'Hitcher' who remains beyond my comprehension.
 
So, a start on a poem in the style of Armitage but from the mother's point of view:
 
I’ve been tired, under
The weather, but the bairn kept screamin’
Waa waa waaa - he was overtired.
I got a bus to the local supermarket.
It was Asda. I was wired.


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