A poem for the day – A Protestant School

This one appears – in my second collection, Rasputin and his Children – introduced by an epigraph quoting from a standard equal opportunities monitoring form, gathering info for what they call ‘the residual method’ of determining an a person’s religion. The question is ‘Did you attend primary/preparatory school in Northern Ireland? If so, please give the name… etc.’

A Protestant School

My mother lies to get me into school.
‘What shall we put him down as?”Presbyterian.’
We’re kept in when it rains. The downpour
sizzles on the big hall’s churchy windows.
We slide in sock-soles across the parquet.
P7’s hard men plot deliberate failure;
in music & Movement, P1s and 2s
pretend to be trees. ‘How high and far can
Bruce Lee really leap? What really killed him?
Who is your favourite Bay City Roller?’
Each year, to please the skeletal headmaster
who hovers in his secretary’s doorway
(at his back the Coronation portrait)
a conscript choir sings Dona Nobis Pacem.

Discover more from Slugger O'Toole

Subscribe to get the latest posts sent to your email.

We are reader supported. Donate to keep Slugger lit!

For over 20 years, Slugger has been an independent place for debate and new ideas. We have published over 40,000 posts and over one and a half million comments on the site. Each month we have over 70,000 readers. All this we have accomplished with only volunteers we have never had any paid staff.

Slugger does not receive any funding, and we respect our readers, so we will never run intrusive ads or sponsored posts. Instead, we are reader-supported. Help us keep Slugger independent by becoming a friend of Slugger. While we run a tight ship and no one gets paid to write, we need money to help us cover our costs.

If you like what we do, we are asking you to consider giving a monthly donation of any amount, or you can give a one-off donation. Any amount is appreciated.