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Poetry Pleases: The Wrong Hand

Joyce Moon's poem reflects upon the clasroom injustice of long ago.

Chalk snaps as ruler cracks
across small knuckles of
forbidden hand.
White dust-motes rise
and blind the panicked eyes
that do not understand why
the white chalk wriggles
on the slate-grey night
or small cries struggle
with the hand that will not write,
while the wrong hand longs
to dance with words
so easily across the slate.

Now, dust-motes of time
chalk your sunken eyes;
your wrong hand flounders
around your lost world,
the hand you said you always used
to scrub and dust in early hours,
still slim and elegant
as when I was your child.
I hold it now, hold it safe,
press it to my lips, my cheek.
Your sleep, still trawling ballast
from eight decades long gone,
murmurs, '... smacked out of
using the ... wrong ... hand.'

I am the one who bears the grudge
that you, in your gentleness,
would never claim as yours.
I am the one who wonders now
through slate-grey nights
of wriggling chalk and struggled cries.
I am the one who travels
through the minds of those
with batons raised
above the tiny hands,
and wonders how
they sliced the trembling air
to smash the fragile porcelain
of childhood.


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