Flakes of dead skin collect on the black keys from where you dragged a fingernail across your brow.
You were considering how brown was the colour that you most associated with school.
The pieces of skin fell like flakes of snow into the furrows of a black field.
You were imagining your grandfather making chalk lines on a piece of slate.
And then, although you can’t be as precise as a clock, lay for what you
think was one whole hour in a bath loaded with essences and oils.
But it wasn’t all brown: you now remember that there was grey.
Grey jumpers, grey trousers – short in summer, long in winter.
A foil tray gets lifted by the wind, rolls and makes a sound like a muffled drum.
The water was spiked, laced with lavender and other tranquilisers.
What a hideous thing the school uniform was! Grey, like slate.
Despite the hour long soak, there are still frigates of dirt sailing
on your skin, along the curving spaces under your nails.
The same nails that you dragged across your brow.
You imagine him spelling his name although this is probably an injustice.
The slow ticking of a clock travelling through particles of dust.
School with its pencils, rulers, polished floors, satchels, shoes
all in the same shade of brown – conkers too.
Deep in the slate mines archaic language gets passed like a lantern from one miner to another.
They work in the dark, sweat and dirt on their faces.