Carol Ann Duffy

Dark School

It is late when you enter the classroom, 
the last of the Latin words going out on the board.
You take your place at the back,
dip your first real pen into blue-black ink.
Your jotter is dusty pink.

You rule a margin, one inch wide,
then write what you must not do,
but did, in a careful, legible list.
You memorize this, stand up,
recite it word-for-word to the shadowy desks.
The tall windows, guilt-ridden, fill with night.

But you can see in this blurred air,
your carved initials soft scars on the wood,
and when you open the lid of your desk
there are your books, condition fair,
your difficult lessons.

Dark school. You learn now — the black paintings
in their charred frames; the old wars;
the voiceless speeches in the library,
the fixed equations — ab invito*.  
Above the glass roof of the chemistry lab,
insolent, truant stars squander their light.

to sell*