You run round the back to be in it again.
No bigger than your thumbs, those virtuous women
size you up from the front row. Soon now
Miss Ross will take you for double History.
You breathe on the glass, making a ghost of her, say
South Sea Bubble Defenestration of Prague.
You love Miss Pirie. So much, you are top
of her class. So much, you need two of you
to stare out from the year, serious, passionate.
‘The River’s Tale’ by Rudyard Kipling by heart.
Her kind intelligent green eye. Her cruel blue one.
You are making a poem up for her in your head.
But not Miss Sheridan. Comment vous appelez.
But not Miss Appleby. Equal to the square
of the other two sides. Never Miss Webb.
Dar es Salaam. Kilimanjaro. Look. The good teachers
swish down the corridor in long, brown skirts,
snobbish and proud and clean and qualified.
And they’ve got your number. Your roll the waistband
of your skirt over and over, all leg, all
dumb insolence, smoke rings. You won’t pass.
You could do better. Bu there’s the wall you climb
into dancing, lovebites, marriage, the Cheltenham
and Gloucester, today. The day you’ll be sorry one day.
– Carol Ann Duffy