Quartets of desks like rounds of crusty scones
break up to milk crate echelons.
The peck and squawk of playtime withers
to an elbowed silence of Key Stage torture.
The only sounds: scratching pens and the soft
lap of papers breaking to phlegmy coughs.
Only Rose is stone, a pagan in the mosque
of schooling. She floats in the sunlit dust.
The test sulks, neglected, as she has been,
avoiding eyes when Miss picks out a team.
This is a key stage, the one where can’t,
and teary afraid, pupates to sneery won’t.