I am six years old, my pencil breaks
mid-word in Mrs Foster’s class.
So I turn to my friend Martin,
show him the pencil and whisper,
‘Martin, Martin, my pencil has broke.’
‘Use this,’ he says and passes a substitute,
secretly under our desk.
‘But it’s a red pencil, Martin,’ I say.
He smiles a smile. It is an ‘it’ll all be ok’
sort of smile and so I carry on,
copying lines of words I cannot read,
but which I try my very hardest
to replicate, as neat and true to the original
as I am able, at six, to do.
At the finish, I look down at my page
of writing; my teacher’s lines above,
with mine in red below and I wonder
about the words I have written.
I am happy with the result of my effort;
especially the esses which are
smooth and curvy and flowing and lovely.
They are the best I have ever done.
So, I walk twenty paces to Mrs Foster’s desk,
clutching my paper with pride,
and return ten yards with a slapped arse,
my work in shreds in a basket,
having a brand new perspective on the way of things
and on the reliability of my friend Martin.
Jonathan Humble is a teacher in Cumbria. His poems have appeared in a number of anthologies and other publications such as Ink Sweat & Tears, Obsessed With Pipework, Atrium, Riggwelter, Amaryllis, Eye Flash and Picaroon. His short stories and poems for children have been published in The Caterpillar and Stew Magazine.