First day at school by Julian de Wette (Me, as a Child Poetry Series)

Silver Birch Press

9. Battswood College, Wynberg
First day at school
by Julian de Wette

I fear the ruler and the blackboard and the cane . . . Ciarán Carson

Tables weren’t meant to be sat at
but things to be said out aloud.
My proficiency on the first day
would set me apart from the crowd.

Why did I deserve punishment
for raising my cap to an elderly gent?
Why did the strap make me cry?
Why did it hurt so much I could die?

I’m confused by what is custom,
what’s done for politeness’ sake.
Such confusion is regarded as error
and all that follows in its wake.

Where were the games I was promised?
The see-saw and the swings?
The sandpit to build castles,
the song of Grasshopper Green?

The flowers I picked that morning
wouldn’t calm my teacher’s rage.
Nor would the words impress her
I’d written on a page.

“There is no…

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