Saturday, 5 March 2011

Orchard Laws

Sunday 16th January 2011, A. Palmer

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.


  1. Whose to say someone might bend down and scoop you up? Very nice write and I was once a drop outside the principle's office. My fifth grade teacher is etched in my 50 year old mind. You can only throw back into the ocean so many starfish. But the effects of one saved is worth the effort. Sounds like you care enough still to grapple over are filling in the spaces of your own possibilities.

  2. Wonderful piece. All of it. I especially like "he nods in all the wrong places".

  3. Thank you both so much. Jerry, you always appear to be first here and it is much appreciated. Tess, likewise- your comments are always pleasing.