Today, the boy at the bottom of class
began to write with the wrong end of his pencil
while his peers rushed on
satisfying objectives, one after the other,
leaping from tens to thousands
to tens of thousands, and on,
multiplying thousandths by hundredths
in their heads quicker than I could check
with a calculator under the table;
tick, tick, tick. Come on!
And today, the boy at the bottom of class
wobbled on the apparatus, slipped off
and cried in a heap of skinny, pale limbs
on the rubberised mat
until he forgot to cry, cracked a smile –
two big front teeth
yellow as cooking margarine.
Sometime soon, this boy will not believe
he was ever not a man.
He will never have it that once
he asked his teacher to draw him a flower,
coloured the petals and stalk in
then handed it back with his name on.
Five letters, spelt wrong.