haibun
A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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June 2009, vol 5 no 2

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Nicola Morris

 

Boarding School

Boarding school should have been a ticket, a password, an invitation.

Boarding school was top bunks and corridors of shiny paint. Boarding school was vats of muesli and brown stews with no meat, crispy potatoes and grated cheese. Boarding school was morning walks in rain and snow. Cold baths. Boarding school was diagrams of photosynthesis and the provinces of Canada on a map with their mysterious names. Saskatchewan. Boarding school was the orchard with apples hanging just above reach, the netball court and the team selections. Boarding school was gym uniforms with cold legs and aertex shirts. Boarding school was walking the corridors past groups of children. Boarding school was morning assembly crowded on long benches. Lectures on the danger of white sugar and the virtue of brown bread. Boarding school was toast with one pat of butter, and the walk to buy sugared doughnuts with jam and cream inside.

Boarding school was Levis not Wranglers. Boarding school was letters and parcels and Otis Redding and jeans draped over a metal boiler belly to dry. Boarding school was walks across the fields, the cows curious about the drone of breath blown across milk bottles. Boarding school was training for a world one would never want to live in. Boarding school was cigarettes smoked in the gardenerís hut, the thwack of tennis balls heard from the dormitory. Boarding school was bed at eight when night fell at ten.

Boarding school was hiding in the toilet to cry. Boarding school was baked beans with mashed potatoes on top, or potatoes with melted cheese on top. Boarding school was learning to sew a skirt and stuff a pepper and carve a cross halving joint. Boarding school was getting drunk on cider. Boarding school was opening my legs for one boy, and then another, in a field where the straw and dirt stuck to my back. Boarding school was not being able to jump over the leather horse. Boarding school was not being able to grab the rings. Boarding school was not being able to climb the rope.

Fields, old brick buildings,
mossy fence railings razed through
by poison. Children.

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