School Days - Best Days Of Our Lives?

Herringbone

The pallor of the parquet floor
Brings recollections of
School, its classrooms, its corridors

Somehow the pattern pulls
Me into a journey through
Time; conjuring images

Of art and assemblies,
Of laughter and lateness,
Of parents and pupils and plans:

For a future unknown;
For escaping the lessons
And the chill of those changing rooms.

A mishmash of memories,
Butting up against each other
In a pattern I wouldn’t have at home.

Most I cherish fondly;
Others I’d like to forget, but they
Stick in my throat like a herringbone.

(Copyright: Paul A M Palmer)

MemoryPoetryRegretSadnessSchool

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Paul A M Palmer

Mon 30th May 2016 13:20

Ah, the best days of our lives! School was great; it was terrible; it was OK. This all depended on who you were as a person, in a group, in a class, in a clique, in a team. Somehow, most of us managed to survive the dark days, the tension, the angst, the exams, the teachers, the bullies, the homework … and we all have our tales to tell – we all got at least one story out of it, good or bad.

I was in a Christmas craft fair in a church hall and looked at the floor as I walked in. This got me thinking about how every time I see a parquet floor with a herringbone pattern, I recall my days (and nights!) at school.

Memories of those days just flood in and I am overwhelmed by their clarity and volume. I wrote the poem below primarily in remembrance of a boy who was the same age as me and was bullied because of his gentle nature. I suppose you could say that in addition to the bullies, one or two teachers may have overdone it in terms of ignoring his shyness and making a point of embarrassing him in class. At the end of that school year, he hanged himself with his school tie. I recall vividly the collective shock when he failed to turn up in the following September – this was in the days before mobile phones and the internet, so very few of us were aware of his death (although the teaching staff had all been informed).

Having written the poem, Herringbone, I realised that I still feel a little guilty because if just one of us had made friends with him, (or if only I had made friends with him) it might have made all the difference. This train of thought resulted in another poem, which I’ll share the next time I blog. Herringbone is dedicated to the memory of SJ – he is not forgotten.

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