Karen, self-styled schoolmarm at Keeping Secrets has asked us to compose poems to do with schools and schooling. She has primed the pump with a couple of excellent ones of her own. You might want to pop over there. It would be worth your while.
Some may experience a slight feeling of deja vu reading the first of my poems. I have introduced this young lady before (here) . Indeed, I painted a somewhat fuller portrait of her on that occasion, even if a rather similar one. The two poems relate two very similar occasions. Unfortunately, there were many such.
A crackle of fine lines across the brow,
the final detail of her painting done --
another from the frontier of fear.
They might have been a veil, those lines, but now
she says it is her sister, 'Ashcan', and
she's given her the family disease:
her hair roots push down through her skull
and choke what little brain she has. "She dull,
I hopes the 'ole disease don't get to me!"
As after-thought: a baby in a pram --
naked for some reason -- shows inchoate
root invasion on her brow. "Niece, she dumb --
Don't speak", she adds to clarify. "I draws
her head and roots in anyways. And they
do sting, them roots -- and if you pulls them, squeaks."
The occasion of this next poem was a school journey undertaken during the early sixties when we began to become familiar with pictures of the earth taken from space.
Walking to Ventnor
Peter running on
and first to breast the downs.
"Quick, come on up and look!" his cry,
"Hurry, you can see the whole
wide world from here!"
That's how it looked,
I guess, like one of those new
photographs from space:
The Isle of Wight laid out below
was Earth, the sea full-circle round it,
space. And yet he was the first to see
the flaw in what he'd thought:
down where The Needles should have been --
had it still been The Isle of Wight --
a wisp of mist, but clear enough.
There, like a stocking laddered,
space was torn, did not
full-circle Earth. A causeway,
sliver of earth material or bridge,
connecting us to God-knew-what-
but-wouldn't-tell. Nor who
or what might cross it in the night.
a happy simile
becomes a source of angst.
The Goodenough Draw-A-Man Test
(This an intelligence test sometimes given in those days to young children.)
I'm drawing me...
"Do best you can," she said.
"youm very best."
"And talk", she said.
"Say what youm doing as you go..."
Eyes first -- up here. That's it.
Big. Gotta be. I see the room.
Got all of that in them.
The head go round the eyes.
Body hangs on underneath.
go right across the desk.
Legs, can't see.
Not long. Down here.
The moon petals the sea. Rose petals the sea. Stone sea. Stone petals. Rose petals of stone. Stone rising before me. Sea moves. How moves...
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