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  • Devki Panchmatia

The School Orchard & Hieroglyphic Tablet from the Drought

Updated: Sep 11, 2022


In 1897, eighty clergy orphans moved

into this school building. They sat on these

grounds in September, surrounded by the

sweet rot of apples. The crush of photosynthesis.

(My time there was very similar to this.)

Orphan girls loping around crabapples,

severe brick and beams. Sharing the sparse

parentage of trees. Losing them to mould.

Enduring gaps, jealous of spore-prints on logs

and their never-ending memory.

Surely, girls came in pairs back then,

as they did when I was at school.

She and I were an easy match. We both had

dead mothers. Both impatient to assume the world.

We laughed together. Found spore-prints.

I remember her pincering her chewed-up piece of gum

between thumb and forefinger. If you’re really

my best friend, you’ll swallow it. And I did. Because

this is how girls love. They share things

that aren’t for sharing.


vulture hand reeds owl

shin -ing black water

scarab big black ankh

stone wall burden -ed

with thirst hot reeds

gasping dry field grass

the serpent has wanted

this for years my

home is ash soon

this stone will be

the only proof of

our thirst our thirst

will out -live us

let us carve water

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