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Sunday, 31 August 2014

'I'm New Here' - Poem for the First Day of School

For many, it is not only the start of a new term, but the start of life at an entirely new school. This is true no less for teachers than for pupils, and teachers, like pupils, are often incredibly nervous. I've written a poem about the first day at school, from a teacher's point of view. The teacher is a young person eager to please (it is me, basically, although I'm not a teacher in the traditional sense). I have been working on the poem on and off for several months. I'm not sure if it's finished, or if it ever will be. I hope you enjoy it.

I’m New Here

The students are lining up for lunch.
I don’t know whether to wait with them
or to push to the front,
like the other teachers do.
I’m new here.
It’s my first day of school.

The dinner lady tells me to step forward,
to the top of the queue.
She spoons me an extra large portion,
with four potatoes.
The students get two.

They sit in rows at long tables,
locked in conversation
like two sides of a zip.
I’m the only one who chose fruit salad
instead of chocolate cake.
I find an empty space.

I’m new here.
It’s my first day of school.

They’re prodding each other,
debating where to sit.
They eye the seats around me
and decide they’d rather stand. 
One of them cracks a joke,
then they all start laughing.

And I’m ten years old again,

no one to talk to, wanting to belong
more than anything else in the world.
I’m ten years old again,
whispered comments prickling at my back;
my very skin an ill-fitting uniform.

I’m ten years old again,
the new kid
on my first day of school,
my eyes searchlighting the exits,
desperate to run away.  

I take my tray
and eat in the staffroom.

I’m new here.