On a lazy ambling drifting day we see a sleepy town
Where traffic passes all day long but passing trade is down.
Respectable old ladies work in charitable shops.
We pop in to do some business there, but no one ever stops.
Then suddenly from the open gates a block or so away,
A slick of students spills and gushes out into the day.
They pour like lava, churning, burning, spreading down the street,
Laughing, strolling, high heeled shoes, and marching DM feet.
Batten down the hatches, hide in doorways, step aside,
The students flow down Church Street in an unremitting tide.
Mothers clutch their children and old ladies grip their purses,
They colonise the pavements and they disregard your curses.
They gather outside Safeways huddled darkly in a crowd,
They talk about each other, and their voices jangle loud.
They drift on into Priory Park, policemen move them on,
They'll filter back at sundown when the families are gone.
They settle on the climbling frames like sea birds in a storm,
And their clothes are fashion statements, but they look like uniform.
Where's their mothers and their fathers? Don't they care or don't they know?
Well they all have homes to go to, but there's nowhere else to go.
by Sheridan Parsons
I wrote this poem when I was a young mother. At the time, I found large groups of students quite intimidating, although I understood that they meant no harm, and literally had nowhere else to go. The poem was published by Poetry Now in the Voice of Surrey Anthology, 1995.