Vicki Feaver

I gripped with my feet, climbed
until I could see through the hoops
of the netball posts; slid back,
burning the skin off my fingers.
Until the mound of coarse new hair,
curved bone, secretly-folded flesh
where the rope pressed, I'd roused
a live nest: a wriggling litter
like the baby voles I'd found
in a squeaking hole in the grass —
hearts palpitating in furless,
pastry-thin sides; or featherless
chicks — all claws and beaks
and black-veined wings —
that dropped from gutters.
I had to squeeze my thighs
to stop them breaking out:
squealing and squawking
into the gym's blue steel rafters;
or scrabbling down the inside
of my legs, over whitened plimsolls,
making the games mistress shriek.