Hated school.
Hated Math.
Hated Irish.
Hated French.
Hated my scratchy, grey uniform trousers,
the ones my father
bought me after I wore the ends of my old
pair away, letting them drag in the mud,
hating them so much.

My father said:
‘You don’t know the meaning of the word hate, son.
You couldn’t possibly hate all those things.’
Hate was a very strong word, he said.

So I wrote a message to my father
right where he’d be sure to see it—
high up on the left thigh of my new,
scratchy, grey uniform trousers
the ones he paid twenty-five euro for—
I drew a box on my thigh.
Inside the box I wrote:
‘I do not want to live inside a box.’
I wrote it in blue biro.
It shows up better on grey than the red.
And when my father saw it
he didn’t say a word about the twenty-five euro.
I had to hand it to him.
That must have cost him a lot more in restraint
than twenty-five euro worth.

Then I dropped out of school
and went to live in New Zealand,
as far outside the box as I could get.