An education of little nods here and there,
words of encouragement, nudges,
unexcitable teachers, firm but fair,
muttering approval - "you're doing fine"
- "keep up the good work".
Occasional scowls and stares
from the blackboard to the rows
of small wooden desks and chairs
- "behave" - "concentrate" - "now, now"
and we did as we were told.
No shouting, no drama, no backchat,
we knew our place in primary school,
the status of the grown-ups,
the finality of their rule.