The Days We Learnt the Memory of Shame
By Fatima Aamir
school-books and school-yards:
the onward march of
every parent thinks their kid brilliant—
"The Great Equalizer"
/the chosen way to keep em
off the streets
they certainly won't listen to
their teachers all the time
good cop bad cop
miss/madam EVIL WITCH
the wheels of discipline
pages upon pages
of homework. just ask mum&dad for help.
except mum&dad don't really know english
except dad always leaves and it's only ever mum
except mum&dad don't get home till 11 and the homework's still not done
but at least they're too tired to fetch the belt.
kids—it'll toughen em up
this exercise in resilience
so let them
lumber w their lexicon
so they never write a poem like
rallying-cry of meritocracy
or, as it's known round these parts,
of a grade-school madam, who simply
had enough of the rowdy Rolands and the debauching Davids,
the jeering Jamals and the awful Ahmads, and sat,
instead, with the kind Kianas and courteous Caitlyns,
the preppy Priyas and softspoken Suleimans;
read to them (as their parents already do)
so that one day they'd read for her.
starched trousers, pressed & pleated pinafores
splashes of BATA SHOE WHITE
a class: notice!
the recitations rise, fall in song.
yes—the kids will sing, seize
your words, toss them in an unfamiliar pitch
now you're done with them: life itself will offend
their NEW SENSIBILITIES
their standardization, anglicization,
their new proclivities
don't forget to write something of your own
for nobody but all your old friends to read.
Fatima Aamir (she/her) is a poet and writer currently residing in Vancouver. She has edited and written for The Talon, the University of British Columbia's independent press, and was a former editorial intern at The Capilano Review. This fall, she will begin her MA in Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto. She can be found musing over art and social justice on Twitter at @fatimaaamir.