THE SILENT CLASSROOM
CHRIST CHURCH KINDERGARTEN - 1952
'Jesus wants me for a sunbeam' - Talbot
Last night I dreamed of Christ Church
again. The fabulous nightmare
of a cathedral school, the hard flagstones
of the lunch yard, the solemn half-lit
cold benches of the chapel for morning
devotion, the dark cassock of a solemn priest,
the smoking pomander and the bells.
Where I shrank shivering during those long
interminable whispered incantations of ritual
and prayer. And never wept once.
To morning break with my regulation
blue floral drawstring bag beneath a leafless
English Ash. The sweet sharp zest of mandarin
in the slight fingers of a child lost in
the lachrymose of loneliness where then I cried
as a child cries, in the schoolyard.
And all that remains now is the unaccountable
smell of mandarins. Wanting my mother:
knowing even then there was nothing else here
that really mattered.
You are a final note
on an intricate chord
of wires, brooms and bags
your vacuum cleaner
an everyday recessional
your work has the sanction
is a seal of approval
on the stations of the school
you are a final blessing
on the closing of the day.