“An odd little boy who dislikes beets”….so wrote Godfrey’s long suffering teacher, Mrs Kromplak, in a tattered note home that his mother saved. “Though out worldly shy, he also appears capable of “charming water from a tap”, “A magnet for off beat adventure, or a bowl to lick clean, he must learn that laughing en-route to the toilet is frowned upon on most levels of society’. It was a magical treat when another Wisdom of Godfrey was unearthed, his 31st must have been born from an ordinary school day, when he was 10 years old…
I raised my timid hand in class, informing Miss my need for the loo, spectacles end of her bulbous nose, Miss peered down at me. “I was pelted with beets by bullies, I whispered, en-route to the toilet, and had not time to wee” Off I was sent with a smack cross the head, and dire warning what I may not get up to. I recall still, and shall remember till old, the smells as I ran down the hall, Mr Igor The Janitor’s rusty, old pail, marking a spot where someone had been ill, which of course I tripped over, flooding old Mrs Wadd’s art room and shoes with the spill.
I had beets in my hair, beet stains on my shirt, a welt where the Janitor’s bucket had hurt, but Mr Igor was not chasing after me yet, as I laughed en-route to the toilet. I paused to write words on the loo wall, naughty verse of my own in the form of an ode- To my dislike of beets, and blessed retreat, from class to damp, nasty concrete commode. Yet, awaiting my return to the room, lurked Igor the Janitor, wielding his broom, so abruptly I turned about, still on the run, sought the nice Lunch Lady, hairnet snug over her bun, pinned neat. She oft took pity on I, who so disliked the slimy red beet.
I was sat on a pail by the swill room door, with a bowl of creamed corn that had fell on the floor, as she peeled potatoes Mrs Flynn told a story, of when she was my age, and her Poet-Tree….”Twas a weeping willow, provided shade for the library in our wee town, twixt firehouse and greasy old cafe, place of “Ill Repute” long ago closed down. In all foul weather, the ground neath the willow stayed dry, but was best in summer, my brothers climbed high, but not me. In the cool and quiet I read neath my Poet-Tree.
“I read Homer’s Odyssey, read The Romantics, the nonsense, the bawdy, the tawdry, the tragic, read of be-headings and creatures of Mystic Wales, Read of sailors who feared storms and war horses bold, and of “Inchcape Rock, I so longed to see”. Books are the friends I made for life, met under my Poet-Tree.
“Now you, Godfrey, asked Mrs Flynn as I licked clean the corn bowl she gave me, is there not a classroom you ought to be? “I told her my story of needing the loo, which was true, and fearing the Janitor’s wrath, for knocking over his pail of dirty water, from cleaning up sick into art class, “It splashed Mrs Wadd on the shoe.”.
“Laughing en-route to the toilet, is frowned upon, on most levels of polite society” I was ten years old, sent home with this note for Ma. “Please discuss this matter with Godfrey, who left for the toilet and two hours later returned, claiming he- “Was eating cream corn neath a Poet -Tree” ” A grand weeping willow!, it is I told Ma, in a town cross the sea, far away, perhaps if I cease to fret over beets, may we go there next holiday?” Folding the letter, saying nothing, Ma had only to glare, I retreated alone up the stair, going without evening tea. in the gloom of my room, thought of sun dappled shade, wisdom I believed truly grew in the old Poet-Tree, Ma barred all writings of Alfred Lord Tennyson, from the house, why, she never told me, but I treasured a copy, kept well hidden, borrowed from the kind Dinner lady.
And The 31st Wisdom of Godfrey States- I heard the clack of playing card, whir by in bicycle spoke, the splash and squeal of young ones, as we did so long ago, playing horses with a jump-rope. There was laughter en-route to the toilet- it’s joy gave me hope. And that late summer eve…heard someone reading aloud a story…passing on the wonder of the words, beneath a Poet-Tree. Seek the magic, age matters naught, seek out your Poet-Tree.