They remind me of old educational
cartoons on molecules,
the kids do,
as they shuffle through the door,
vibrating in one solid group
against the icy morning.
Two or three stragglers float
in merrily behind them;
too busy gassing
to have heard the bell, I imagine.
Once inside where it’s warm, they disperse
and one wave goes to Physics,
another to Psychology.
There’s a puddle in Pottery,
quite the reservoir in P.E., albeit
postponed whilst a pond poaches Lost Property,
and one wayward raindrop
teeters outside the Principal’s office.
He waits for the Principal.
He waits for me.
I begin by likening the school to an apple tree,
and its pupils to unripened fruit.
If they’re lucky, one might fall
into the hand of a passing nobleman
and hitch upon a ride to riches and fame.
The rest will rot upon the orchard floor,
mottled and moulding and food for the maggots.
I end by telling him he’s got potential,
but that potential is nothing but space
only hard work can fill.
He nods in all the wrong places,
so I let him leave, tired of trying-
as tired as my speeches.
He hears that he can go.
As he sheeps out,
I bemoan that I didn’t do more.
That I didn’t do more to inspire him,
or that I don’t any of the kids.
Then I catch myself in my desk mirror,
and the answer is etched upon the glass
like a model exam paper-
who would be inspired?
You’re but an apple upon the orchard floor:
grey and wrinkled and moulding.