The paper records showed that I was
Girl Eleven-Thousand-Two-Hundred-And-Seven and
I talked only to walls in an unknown language.
The children avoided the pew under the great oak tree
where I sat, knees bent, staring at
my notebook with many blank lines.
On a solitary battlefield, inside the rusty ceiling ghetto,
I learnt to hold my breath under water, counting the steamy bubbles
in the over-boiled dry wood soup.
Nobody had heard my voice until that afternoon
during the Propaganda Lectures when mister Opal stood me up
by the blackboard
to recite, loud and clear, verses from The Pupils’ Manifesto;
pages two, three and four.
The first page was missing but, coming to think of it,
all our books had the first page torn out.
Mister Brown Jacket lifted my chin up,
glared at my bitten fingertips and
dismissed the whole class.
In a cupboard behind the stairwell,
the world gave birth to a