the silence of the exam room

The quiet is quite light, like shafts of sunbeams

Cutting through the dusty hall, falling on the open papers,

Several students shield their eyes as dust begins to settle

On a page not turned in half an hour, and yet the pencil

Frayed from chewing dances in the spotlight too.

It starts so light but grows with weights

As the clock hand echoes round the hall,

Louder than it was before, it’s all that we can hear.

A teacher coughs, then bows her head,

Praying to the ministers, the ones that wrote a paper for

A world of metrics and of goals; if you don’t reach

You’re kicked away, a waste of space until you qualify

To plumb the bathrooms, build the house, cut the hair,

Then you’re needed, once they’ve made your life a living hell.

Before the bell can ring, the students barely raise their eyes,

Crushed with hate and envy for a life they’ll never know.

This hall is just a prison room that’s built from infancy,

The starchy uniform is little more than jailhouse jumpsuits

That we’ll wear, once we’ve signed that job contract,

Bought the house and married someone we don’t know.

It’s a trap, I whisper into nothingness.

Run, you still have time.

2 thoughts on “the silence of the exam room

  1. Margot Kinberg

    You really capture the atmosphere of the exam room! It is interesting how examinations like that are part of what separates people into different parts of our society, and I wonder whether that should really happen. We have these cultural attitudes towards those who have a uni education, for instance, and those who don’t. You raise some really interesting points here!

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