Henry’s Mum was making tea
when the Headmaster telephoned:
‘There’s been an accident in Biology –
I’m afraid your son’s been cloned.
‘We wouldn’t normally bother you
(except in case of disease)
but from a practical point of view,
we’re concerned about the fees.’
Henry’s Mum became quite grim,
and her voice was filled with dread.
‘How will I cope with two like him?’
‘It’s … worse than that,’ he said,
‘We didn’t notice what was wrong
till it was far too late.
You began today with just one son,
but you finished it with eight.’
Next morning there was quite a crop:
thirty-two from just one mould,
and when the process finally stopped,
five hundred and twelve, all told.
After that appalling day,
the school went to the wall.
The other pupils moved away,
so they renamed it Henry Hall.
Group activities in class
suffered less from indecision,
but games became a total farce:
they all played the same position.
Exam results were uniform,
both first time and re-takes.
They stuck to a consistent norm,
including the mistakes.
Careers were trivial to fix:
some took command of tanks,
a few went into politics,
the rest into merchant banks.
And Henry’s Mum still makes the tea,
when called on by a son,
each time wondering wistfully
if he’s the proper one.
(Originally published in Every Day Poets)
Jonathan Pinnock runs this place.