In the history of school,
Class 5 was the happiest.
Outside swan plants grew -
we gave them sidelong glances,
hope was brewing.
A race through times tables
made the hands of the clock spin, to playtime.
Special days were marked in red,
but not the day of the eggs.
Caterpillars unfurled from tiny cavities,
miniscule mouths sucked on sweet milky sap.
Feel one move across your skin,
cold muscle sways back to the plant,
can it smell its sweetness?
Teacher and class complicit.
Plants, stripped of foliage and larvae,
Desks, containers for
balls of paper, pencil sharpenings,
now conceal a tiger-striped miracle.
Can it hear the teacher droning?
We are like these caterpillars,
silent, with our heads on hard wood,
breathing in the scent of varnish.
We watch numbers dance in our heads,
make them go wherever we like,
lead pressed deep into soft paper,
the embossed answer, wrong.
Teacher plays the ukulele,
we clap and sing,
even the numbers keep time.
Caterpillars eat their plants,
listen and fasten themselves, beneath the lid,
in the dark cave,
amongst old rubbers, snapped rulers, sandwich wrappings,
they become something else.
Pupils and pupae sit in rows,
still and meditative as we change.
We believe the myths,
we know beautiful monsters
transform just below the surface.
Look at the picture of a queen on the wall,
lift the lid of your desk , to find a butterfly,
Watch it unfold its wings, flaunting its perfection.
Let it fasten its tiny feet to your finger.
Sit at the open window,
there are more important lessons to learn,
one by one,
each takes its first flight,
from the dark into light,
released into their world,
joyful orange and black confetti across blue sky.
These are monarchs we understand.