A story based on the poem "Lament" by Dylan Thomas.
Thomas divides a man's life into five parts; each of which is depicted by the refrain: SIGHS THE OLD RAM ROD DYING OF : WOMEN; BITCHES; WELCOME; DOWNFALL AND FINALLY STRANGERS. In other words, he is separating a man's life into his five phases of virility by the obvious use of the words; RAM ROD.
Using those five phases, I have tried to create a story about what the person might have been like and the forces that may have formed his feelings and thoughts.
If the front of the classroom was 12:00 O’clock. He sat at about 5:00 O’clock but his eyes were always fixed at 10:00 O’clock. Just at that position a large window, covered in wire screening looked out on the small, three treed school parkland. The elementary school was located just a few blocks away from St. Phillip Evans Catholic church on Myelfa and LLanedyem Street in Cardiff Wales. He lived a short distance away on Brynfedw Lane.
The window allowed a beautiful sunny and warm light to fill the classroom but it was not the reason he sat with his eyes glued to that place in the classroom. For him, the sunshine and light was simply an accessory to change the color of her beautiful wheat colored hair. He would describe her hair to himself as “hair, the color and fragrance of ripe wheat”. Oddly, it was a strange description for him since he had never seen wheat growing nor had he ever had the occasion to savor its fragrance, but to his way of thinking, healthy, golden wheat was what he imagined when the sunlight changed the tones of her hair as she moved her head from side to side whispering to one of her classmates. He imagined she was speaking words of pure poetry or at least something angelic but in all probability she was asking for the answer to one of the quiz questions. Such are the imaginings of love for this twelve year old boy, experiencing his first pangs of adoration for someone other than himself, the effect was bombastic.
In what was his twelfth angelic year, the first incipient rays of belief were beginning to peel away and abetted by his friends who were also going through this natural process, he was starting to make the first, dark choices of his innocent life.
It was in this innocent, inchoate space where Ellie existed. All that was equated with good and innocence revolved within the hemisphere of his first twelve years but like the almost transparent skin of an onion, were flaking off to reveal what was the basic core of his being.
It started with his serving as an altar boy assisting the priest in his dominical duties. After Mass, he and his fellow acolyte would secretly pour some of the sacrificial wine into the empty cough medicine bottles they secreted in their pockets to be consumed at their leisure. Caught one time by Father Farrell, he received a severe cuffing that made him shout back at the priest that he also saw the priest when he poured a more than liberal amount of wine and finish it off in one swallow. He was told that his serving at the Mass would be prohibited until he repented his blasphemous accusation and that he should seek the forgiveness of the Priest and the Church by a continued penance of 5 Our Fathers and 10 Hail Mary’s said twice each day plus a weekly confession of his sins for two months.
When he again was permitted to serve as an altar boy, he went back to his old wicked ways, but now with a vengeance. So each Sunday, he kept an eye on Father Farrell and managed to pour 2 empty cough bottles of wine for himself instead of just one. He was always abetted and encouraged by his fellow altar boy Billy Malone.
He was becoming as unwelcome as the black spit of the coal miner’s who developed the dreaded lung disease, so prevalent in the small coal mining town.
And then, on late Sunday afternoons when the light was being absorbed by the setting sun, the two boys would meet in the hidden woods just off Circle Way West. There, hidden in their secret hideout, they partook of the Blood of Christ. It took little of the wine to gain an unsteady glow and the boys would watch the older girls of 13 and 14 as they pristinely gossiped and giggled and played ninepin on the donkey’s common. No male was ever allowed to listen. It was in this hidden holy place where one of the girls might suddenly leave the group to relieve herself. A small area of the lot was secluded and close to where the hidden boys would patiently wait in the dense weeds to see the baffling but exciting aspect of a female as she peed.
“ Where does it come out from; how does she prevent peeing on herself and weren’t there splashes?” For the boys, peeing was not only easy and fun but you could have contests to see who could pee farthest, or you could try to write your name in the snow if your name was not too long and it was always a chance to measure yourself against your competition. One needed the assurance that one was growing.
Also included is the actual poem in the event a reader might not be familiar with Thomas or his poem.