It began when you opened your desk
and found everything gone, replaced with sand.
You opened the wooden pencil case your brother
had made and it contained nothing but sand.
Next, your books filled with sand and the words
began to wear away. Your homework was late
because sand ate the sums and solutions.
Study time vanished in to the time it had taken
to dig the sand from the library shelves
like an archaeologist
before you could find the reference books.
When you were sent to fetch the register,
the secretary poured sand into your open hands.
At detention, you wrote out a hundred times
I must not lose the sand register on the way back to class.
When you opened the door to the classroom, a dune
of sand poured out that it was impossible to climb up.
The taps in the toilets only gave you sand, cold pale sand.
Your running shoes were emptied of sand, but still
the sand got between your toes and blistered your feet.
Sand followed you home, waited at the bus stop,
filled the back seat of the coach and slid down the aisle
when the driver braked harshly.
Sand lurked throughout weekends, bank holidays,
every day of the half-term break. Sand accumulated
on Sunday evenings and came down with a million
tiny silica jibes, made it impossible to sleep
and got into your dreams, even there;
when the other children laughed,
the sand blasted your face, clogged your throat.
(from Assembly Lines, Bloodaxe Books, 2018)
Publisher and poet Jane Commane’s first full-length collection, Assembly Lines, was published by Bloodaxe in February, 2018. Her poetry has featured in anthologies including The Best British Poetry 2011 (Salt Publishing) and Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam (Cinnamon) and in magazines including Anon, And Other Poems, Bare Fiction, Iota, Tears in the Fence and The Morning Star. She has been a poet in residence at the Brontë Parsonage in Haworth, and has led many writing workshops in a variety of locations, including in museums, castles, city centres, orchards and along riverbanks. Twitter @CommaJane