Father Austin held up the clay
Pot for the class to see; his eyes
Ablaze like lit fires; his pock
Marked face lined in a cruel
Smile, his bony fingers holding
The pot as if it contained shite;
As if some odour was given off
That touched his enormous nose.
This was made by Collins; this is
an example of how not to make a
Pot; how to waste the school’s
Money; how to give an example
Of laziness, Father Austin said, his
voice carrying across the room like
a cannon blasting through a Wall.
Collins blushed red, his face aglow
like a trashed arse; his eyes focussing
on the pot held aloft, wishing the earth
would open and quickly swallow him
up; he shifted his gaze to Father Austin’s
face; took in the hard glazed glare of the
teacher’s eyes; the thin smile; the thin
head of ginger hair making a tonsure.
Well, Collins, what have we here, boy?
What is it supposed to be? A pot, Father,
a clay pot, Collins murmured, sensing
the other boys snigger, an odd guffaw,
and Father Austin’s deep breathing filling
the craft classroom like poisonous gas.
Pot? This is supposed to be a pot?
Didn’t you watch and listen when I
Spoke and showed you? Were you
Being lazy boy? Were you asleep?
The voice seemed to stretch out
And touch the walls and embrace
All the boys and their ears and minds.
Yes, Father, no, Sir, Collins muttered,
The world beginning to collapse in on
Him; his face seeming on fire; his head
About to explode; he lowered his gaze
To the desk: a pen, a ruler, the ink
Blotted notebook, and carved words
In the light brown wood caught his
Eyes: AUSTIN IS A SUCK, stood out
In grooves stained with black ink.
His mind caressed the words; held
Them close to his heart; and then
Suddenly, at least for a short while,
His heart lifted up and his young
Face unfolded into a small shy smile