A room with a view of wooded valleys,
deep, dark gorges and in the distance a
medieval town. A Cathar castle
clings to a jagged ridge like a mirage,
whilst birds of prey circle to catch thermals
and rise into a cerulean sky.
A room with a past of children sat at
wooden-lidded desks, watching the teacher
chalk exercises on battered blackboards.
Laughing, they surge onto the preau to
play, whilst older boys run to the orchard
braving brambles to feast on wild berries.
A room with an air of gloom, rotting and
forlorn, the children gone long ago, it’s
shutters closed as if in a dreamless sleep.
Creeper climbs the crumbling walls and mice
invaders dart amongst dead bluebottles
lying on the cracked terracotta floor.
A room with a sense of hope as arms fling
shutters wide and in the sun’s rays dust motes
rise to float in the musty air. A soft
breeze drifts through, caressing cobwebs. The walls
echo with excited voices planning
repairs and making life changing choices.
Preau – a covered play area found in French village schools
The above poem was inspired by an old schoolhouse in
France, which had stood empty for 30 years before we came along and fell in love with the view from the classroom. A neighbour gave us a black and white photo of herself and other children sat at wooden desks, which was taken in the classroom back in the 1950’s. I chose to write the poem in four stanzas of six and on reflection I think the four stanzas represent the seasons – starting with summer and ending with spring and a new beginning.