Annexe

It was in the cloakroom,
aged five, where I cried,
not wanting to be there,
tearful in that mote-strung light.

We were surrounded by the shed skins
of other children, labelled,
those hook-hung anoraks,
pegged, emptied

into registered obedience,
unto the vast common hall,
beam-vaulted, a Victorian school,
I now know this hind-sighted as I am.

It was almost a prayer-free church,
with a never-trod office
stuck high in the wall, accessed,
it appeared, by God’s stairway.

And off that open space
high window-fitted doors
invited shy glances into classes,
but were beyond my height.

Did I hold Dad’s hand as he walked
with me through low furniture?
It made him an even bigger giant
in my small space.

We were shown past crate-piled milk,
bottled, to be expertly straw-poked,
unless as I later learned,
the birds got there first:

Sun-warmed, a gloop of cream on top,
the sure-indicator but never off,
that first lesson
in my infant education.

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