I give thanks today, to you, my primary school teachers
such as Mr Clive, who stole a swig regularly from the brown-ridged
bottle locked in the glass cabinet, who walked crooked and ancient
and looked at us crossly from winced-up eyes. He demonstrated
his copperplate by writing the alphabet in one swift line, lifting
the chalk after the z only to double dot the j and the i
and in the next class Miss Binney who poked with a sharp forefinger
when we disappointed, who took pleasure in deflating someone
who may be getting too big for her boots with her keen tongue–
who tore down work displayed on the wall, with triumph in her eye
who in the summer smelled of underarm perspiration and irritation.
And lastly Mr Broughton, the top class teacher and master of music
who swiped at the heads of children who couldn’t keep time
or didn’t remember the difference between a quaver and a minim.
Sometimes he lifted boys up by one ear, or threw the chalkboard wiper
fiercely, enticed the class to taunt and bully that day’s under dog.
I give thanks to you. Your bad examples taught me so much about
the breadth of human nature, let me understand, just a little more, .
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