Anita’s enthusiasm pulls us through another tardy Wednesday afternoon, spewing forth Larkin’s masterpiece. Awoken from the poetic spell by the crass tones of the bell, it’s time for poker in the common room. Sad steps lead past the stereo, for once drum and bass has been replaced with a surge of Britpop defiance and despair. The usual associates assemble around the pock-marked poker table. A barrage of swear words accompany each full house. I fall early in proceedings to three of a kind; a relief in some ways, I’m skint as usual.
I fare better
Dragging myself from the melee, I play the queen of hearts at table tennis. Her backhand is lethal; somehow my awkward top spin wins a few points. We kiss, the kind of youthful slobber that passes for love. Sharing a puff by the bike sheds, we talk of our favourite Smiths’ lyrics. Together we re-enter the common room, choosing the leather sofa by the window. Familiar insults accompany our re-emergence, they’re just jealous I suppose. Sitting silently, the isolation increases. My course is set; there’s no turning away from the melancholy inside.
Dr Tim Gardiner is an ecologist, poet and children's author from Manningtree in Essex, UK. His haiku have been published in literary magazines including Frogpond, Modern Haiku and The Heron's Nest. His first collection of haiku, On the Edge, was published in 2017. Tim's debut children's book, The Voyage of the Queen Bee, was published by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in 2016.