Poetry

I am reminded by my good friend Tricia Neal that poetry can tell us a lot … in fact , for me everything is poetry and the words and gestures and silence and emptiness are, in reality, feelings. To this end, and perhaps because I am racing in the London City Race this weekend, and I have turned again to friends for whom running is breathing and reminded myself of Charles Hamilton Sorley’s poem ‘The Song of the Ungirt Runners’.

As the new cohort of students start on their PGCE year, go to one of my favourite and much visited poems by Anis Mojagani ‘Shake the Dust’. This together with R Nukerji’s ‘About School’ …

He always wanted to say things. But no one understood.
He always wanted to explain things. But no one cared.
So he drew.

Sometimes he would just draw and it wasn’t anything. He
wanted to carve it in stone or write it in the sky.
He would lie out on the grass and look up in the sky and it would
be only him and the sky and the things inside that needed
saying.

And it was after that, that he drew the picture. It was a beautiful
picture. He kept it under the pillow and would let no one
see it.
And he would look at it every night and think about it. And when
it was dark, and his eyes were closed, he could still see it.
And it was all of him. And he loved it.

When he started school he brought it with him. Not to show
anyone, but just to have it with him like a friend.

It was funny about school.
He sat in a square, brown desk like all the other square, brown
desks and he thought it should be red.
And his room was a square, brown room. Like all the other
rooms.
And it was tight and close. And stiff.

He hated to hold the pencil and the chalk, with his arm stiff
and his feet flat on the floor, with the teacher watching
and watching.
And then he had to write numbers. And they weren’t anything.
They were worse than the letters that could be something if you
put them together.
And the numbers were tight and square and he hated the
whole thing.

The teacher came and spoke to him. She told him to wear a tie
like all the other boys. He said he didn’t like them and she
said it didn’t matter.

And after that they drew. And he drew all yellow and it was the way
he felt about morning. And it was beautiful.

The teacher came and smiled at him. “What’s this?” she said.
“Why couldn’t you draw something like Ken’s drawing?” Isn’t
that beautiful?”
It was all questions.

After that his mother brought him a tie and he always drew
airplanes and rocket ships like everyone else.
And he threw the old picture away.
And when he lay out alone looking at the sky, it was big and
blue and of everything, but he wasn’t anymore.

It had stopped pushing. It was crushed. Stiff.
Like everything else.

–R. Nukerji

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