Gardenia of the dangling hem
Gardenia of the tangled hair
big, awkward girl with hanging head
you were the dirty girl
Mummy told me not to go near
because Things might hop off you
and I didn’t go near, didn’t even
look at you more than I had to;
I turned my back, I turned my eyes
I never said a word to you, I pretended
you didn’t exist (how dare you be here,
in my school; how dare you be?)
so when the letter came
from your parents, complaining
that three little girls had picked on you —
mean Lexie, rough Janet, and me —
I protested, indignant in innocence,
‘I never did anything to her’.
The others confessed. ‘I hit her.’
‘I kicked her.’ But I got into trouble
for telling lies. Until roll-call.
‘Oh, you couldn’t have done it;
you weren’t here yesterday!
Why didn’t you say?’
(Because, Stupid Teacher, I wasn’t here,
so I didn’t know this was about
something that happened yesterday.)
Gardenia, I don’t think you ever came back.
I wonder what you would have looked like
clean and cared for — or were you
a big old dumb girl kept down in class,
never going to catch up, unable
to keep yourself nice? I’ll never know.
But I do understand now
that you weren’t just talking about one day,
and why you said I picked on you.
Day 21 - Someone you judged by their first impression
Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your posts as much as possible.