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Sunday, July 3, 2022

The Demolished School

Noah Wild writes on the highs and lows of growing up.

Block A was the first to go.

The claw of a digger smashed through the rectangular arch

of doorways, tearing down the wooden ceiling, rotten

from years of leaking drains, eroded cladding.

Carpets ripped from floorboards, exposing wood

on which footprints, preserved,

almost rested in stasis, toe bending to heel,

where students once pulsed together,

rushing to lessons, or

dawdling, taking the longer route

with detours down past history,

up to food tech, then disappearing.

In those geography rooms I had spent hours,

head down in textbooks, staring at Sarah Lee,

in the row next to me,

her foundation cracked around the nose,

studded earrings, hair like bronzed ember,

cut at the shoulders, skirt too short for Sir,

but it was all she could afford, passed down

from her sister, who was shorter.

Next, the toilets dismantled,

sinks to be recycled, scrubbed

into new basins, to hold more tears

after failed mocks and sudden

dumpings; like Chloe (who Max had left

for Yasmin, more attractive,

funnier). She sobbed, reassured by friends

hiding from the snap of teachers

too busy for love worn woes,

though Miss Green had cried in the very same cubicle

ten years prior. Spending years of loneliness

sitting on that toilet seat, a haven

from slow lunch times with no friends, I knew the peeling paint

as if it were my own palm, cream cracking, exposing

the avocado green of the seventies. 

Two builders chucked the piston and pipes

into a skip at the nearest tip.

The toilet bowl cracked down the middle,

a shibboleth. No thought for a ceramic

that had seen Maria’s first period.

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