Lesson One: Unknown Histories Remain Silent

Write, create, teacher said inbetween the desks, fingers between sheets, a loose cardigan, and a morning of non-introductions, and yet Her presence was felt. It was there. And so silence surrounded the unspoken voice of the poet. Joe and James’ black shoes walk into the back, and medical room confinement is still confining the mind, and in red jumper She stands, and begins to wander through the anthology of the UK’s English GCSE, Her face tilted down, with hands on hips, She breathes deep, each moment, poignant, and She thinks of the cold water as tongue wets lip and the mentions of John Agard are silently agreed upon, acknowledged. The final two join, but “did not the young lady go out?’, patient and inclusive, with both arms now at sides, Her eyes roll in silent confession – morning is not Her time. Morning is not for waiting, and yet She stood out and up in countryside school to see the thirteen to fourteen year old white children, with black bow in hair, and green blazers uncreased, and so she hangs on for one more moment, another minute, and so mumbles are permitted of boys with boys and girls with girls. And they all know She is waiting, and for once Her wait is being written, writing her from and into the corner. And so, from disorganised beginnings, the intro starts, and wisdom of life and poetry is welcomed with applause. She sets Her scene, the writing of a love poem.

You are my Jaffa Cake in the afternoon,
You are my evening nap on the sofa,
You are my bedroom wall full of penguins,
You are Nirvana rock in the morning,
You are my book curled up in my bed,
You are a sunny summer holiday in Spain,                        

                                    I Love You

She transported them all into their memory, places simple, filled with penguin obsessions, filled with cookies, brand names, familiar and old faces, the teasing siblings, the friendly banter, yet She sat their with Her history, Her memory, cross legged at the heel, picking Her ear, remembering, trying to keep above water, getting through this air saturated in their silent creations, creations which touch a few. The breathing mother of Jamaica sits in the wheely classroom chair, behind the electronic board, and how can they know of the Simple Tings of Life? The simple touch of iPads before bed, of TV sets and iPods stuffing One Direction into their ears, will they ever know the real Simple Tings of Life? this new generation, this White British folk children dressed in uniforms of now. So she releases her dreadlocks and rubs her face down, pulling the skin into awakening – preparing, and asks “are you ready?” – for today the voice of those youth and what they hear and what they know are being spoken into the classroom, and this all must be a tragic love poem for in this month of black history, it is the white children’s simple tings of life we hear, and a black history is left unlearnt.


By Nataša Indiana Cordeaux