Created: 26th August, 2015

Miss Flotsam


Feelings School



Miss Flotsam was my reception teacher.
She had travelled the world.
Brown hair turned golden
under distant suns,
clothes carrying colours
from countless corners of continents.

When my mother's face spilled
a gush of adolescent tears
at the school gates,
Miss Flotsam soaked up the drops
in Peruvian alpaca,
caught splashes
in Himalayan singing bowls,
let sobs fall on Indonesian Gamelans.

Miss Flotsam had flown
through air pockets in jumbo jets,
sailed the seven seas
in opposite directions,
cycled through cyclones,
with dengue fever,
soothed mothers
when their hearts heaved.

When the bully punched me
for being too brown,
Miss Flotsam glared at him
with an eye that could turn fists
into begging bowls.

When my mother was late,
the chairs upturned on the desks,
Miss Flotsam read to me
stories of imperfect families
and unexpected heroes.

When I dozed in class
Miss Flotsam let me sleep
through maths,
through lunch,
through the tuk-tuk traffic,
through the home-time bell.

When I was naughty
Miss Flotsam told me off,
asked of the disasters
destroying my home
and placed sandbags around my lies.

Miss Flotsam had climbed peaks
circled by vultures,
waded rivers with unseen bottoms,
brought ugly fruits
in dusty languages
in foreign markets,
spoke to parents
in dialects they could understand,
sang to pupils
in rhythms they could bear.



Joseph Coelho - Miss Flotsam


CLiPPA 2015 - Joseph Coelho reading Miss Flotsam