The Bennett Road tea girls

Such joy, as the call came
‘Girls who are on drinks duty – off you go!’ –
release from the torment of times tables
spirited skip down the stairs
chattering and laughing.
Here the sanctum staffroom door –
but we swing it open, smacking its stopper with
a free-flowing flourish
to make the teachers teas,
Miss’s milky coffee
Sir’s sugary tea.
Details of the order hidden inside a small panelling door.

On the hob the milk boils
rising and bubbling, puffed up.
Just as it reaches the top
about to break free and burn it’s scorch mark on the world,
up and off, the pan, brandished –
10 minutes later, drinks made,
the bell clangs,
waltz out to play
with the times tablers.

The teachers arrive
full of their mornings’ fretful endeavours
and how some of them were not fruitful.
They push the door steadily.
It does not bounce but labours.
The drinks are drunk routinely amid
much exclaiming on the inexplicable idiocy
of pupils.
Just as well, the ones who made the drinks
had not ingenuity, luckily,
to make them as unpalatable as
some of the lessons.

The door clicks comfortably
behind the refreshed and mystified Misses and Sirs.

Rosie Cantrell

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