THE NURSERY When I was thirteen, when my mind hurt with Latin unseens and theorems, when lunch-times became petty, I would leave the classroom, hall, kitchen, would climb past staff-room and green-room, and enter the nursery where the starched matron was unconcerned with analysis, with academic fashion-shows. I would lie on the ottoman, staring at the white paint of cleansed cupboards, a glass of kaolin near my hand, my throat constricted by the nameless phobia-in-charge. Convalescents came and went: Fiona, with the magnolia knee; Rosemary, light pirouetting in her eye.  I learnt to listen to the assistant, Olive Broomfield, who talked about Ireland, her homeland: about mountains; moss; tubercular blood…. Softly, I would acquaint her with my poems. Copyright © JENNY JOHNSON