Exam Time

I count their heads.
(each has one.)
they are 13, and I quickly add me, for luck.
I say Hindu prayers to fool the clock,
and try to guess which ones will
succeed, excel, survive.

Their hair is still sleek, still shiny
like toddlers’ hair.
I want to stroke their heads.
I wonder if they’d really mind,
deep down.

No punks among the boys;
nothing even vaguely daring:
a common style, rather – sneakers mostly.
In the row aligned with my desk
two skimpy, white cardigans and one pink
all with the same loose cable stitch:
on sale, no doubt, at the plaza

The two girls, though, are night and day:
one in gypsy skirt, fringed shawl,
all Renaissance colours
the other a day-glo harlequin of the ski slopes –
odd, that, in the middle of May.

They come in all sizes
Only two wear glasses
Only one is left-handed

Which one would I have had a crush on
too many years ago to reckon ?
The tall, skinny redhead ?
or the one that looks a bit like
Gian-Maria Volente ?
Would he have liked me ?

I smile to think that then, when I could have passed
unnoticed among them, I felt alone
now, so immediately distinguishable –
if only by my fountain pen
and my practised self-confidence –
I feel myself very much one of…Us.

Statistically, one is homosexual.
Statistically, one will die of an overdose.
Statistically…has nothing to do with anything..

They chew on the ends of pens
and stare out the window
this morning we are all silent
trying to find answers.



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