Subnormal. Mentally Deficient. Daft.
All terms applied to them,
the last by boys like us, of seven.
In real terms what they meant
was that the child could not be taught
and was in need of training.
It made me think: wild animals.
"Unteachable", their "schools" belonged
to health, not Education.
Their "place" was next to ours,
and for its day, enlightened.
I cannot over -stress how much.
That summer came an invitation:
our class to watch their dance display.
We sat on wide, well tended lawns
with rose beds all around.
Two lines of pupils faced each other,
danced and advanced,
cymbals clashed above their heads
then dancing backwards
they regained their starting points.
Except one lad reversed too far
and ended sprawling on his back
among the standard roses.
From us great gales of laughter.
Much hilarity, and to my lasting shame
I laughed as much as any,
but wondered decades later
if that had been the spring
that sent me into special education.
Sometime between those times
the thought had risen in my mind
that had we as a race evolved thus far,
had that become the apex of all life,
it would have been no less a miracle.
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