Collective Memory - Yderle Browman-Hazel

Do you remember the anticipation
Expectation, anxiety,
Delicious excitement
And enjoyable attention?
Uniforms of the correct material
Bought at the recommended store;
Tunics - sewn just so -
Nothing added or taken away;
Hats of the correct size and texture;
Shoes of specified colour and make;
Anklets, white of course;
And wonders of wonders -
That dinky little purse!
Your heart nearly gave out
Before the great day came!

Do you remember your first encounter
(With Bishops' I mean)
The first classroom,
The first form-mistress,
Your first assembly?
Remember the term began on Wednesday morning?
Assembly, form business,
Then home for the rest of the day?
Few schools could claim such class!

Do you remember the sound of the gong
Reverberating through your soul,
And demure young ladies marching into the hall
Every morning
Sitting on the floor
Knickers tastefully hidden
Creasing your wel-starched
Monday linen?
Remember the Headmistress on the stage
Looking down on us,
While the Lord was beholding us
And blessing us once again?
Remember He used to dismiss us
And pardon us
Making those returning
More faithful than before?

Do you remember collecting stationery:
Two rough books and a pencil?
Can you recall the colours of the neat books?
What about the taste of the tamarinds
And the mangoes?
(Generous trees, may they rest in peace, in some place provided)
And the sound of Te Deum Laudamus
And the feel of God being in your head
And in your understanding
As you tried your best to be still,
One solemn Sunday afternoon

Do you remember the rules and regulations
Of those times?
Can you recall talking a mistress
Out of giving a form
A Bad Mark?
Or begging for
A Good Mark?

Do you remember how seriously
The prefects used to take their duties?
You remember Hat Inspection?
And what about the flowers on the lockers?
And the padlocks that compasses used to open
Remember hearing your name
On the detention list at Assembly?
Remember when 'they' introduced Saturday detention
And how 'we' fixed that one?

Do you remember a teacher
Who spoke softly,
Without facial expression,
But whom you dared not disobey?
And another who rolled her eyes
As her voice descended
In shocked disapproval?
Yet another enunciated clearly
With lips, and tongue, and teeth.
These are but a few of the memories
That make us

Yderle Browman-Hazel - July 1999