Poem, "Kindergarten" | TeacherWithTourettes
The first day of school, you were face down
on the floor
crying in front of my classroom
talking in gasps
of tears too old to be your own
saying that it was your mom’s boyfriend.
“It was all him.”
I laid down on the floor next to you,
my eyes teaming with yours.
You wouldn’t answer me with words,
Go ahead and touch this hand
if you want to come to my classroom and talk,
or this hand if you want me to leave you alone.
Your classroom teacher told me that no one would believe
the amount of meth your mom smoked
and heroin she intra-veined
when you were in utero
as your eyes la la la down the hallway
your fingers gnawing at the staples holding
work samples from the 1st graders on the bulletin boards,
your hair plopping
from shoulder to shoulder
in the tick of a second’s hand.
You’ve come to my classroom for 60 minutes every day since.
We usually work on reading or math
but it’s all life.
We start off with “Good Things” when I usually say
My Good Thing is that I get to teach awesome kids like you.
Your mouth jawing open
as if you’re about to ask me if I’m lying.
Never leave your dreams behind.
Dear Perseverance, you took what God gave you
and made it even better.
Yes, you write your numbers from the bottom up,
but you still learned how to count 1-10
by jumping out each number.
You still learned how to decode consonant-vowel-consonant words
as though you wrote them yourself.
Sound it out.
“/w/ /i/ /g/?”
Mr. C. needs a…?
And how your eyes time
when you call me crazy
because I sing “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” in class
or re-enact the lifeboat scene between Rose and Jack in “Titanic”
Touretting my neck with each shriek,
“Why do you do that Mr. C.?”
Because I get nervous.
“Why are you nervous?
You are a textbook blur between patience and hope
when you ask, “Are you a daddy, Mr. C.?”
The veins in your cheeks growing more lucid,
your bangs touching your eyebrows
and the fuzz on your forearms the other students like to riddle
as you sit smart in your chair
“My Good Thing is that I like Christmas,
and Mr. C.’s Birthday
and that’s it.”
It’s the last day of school,
and you’re tipping toes by my kidney table
story-eyed as you ask me what we are going to do today.
the expression on your face perfect
like a flame finding its shape,
You tell me your mom’s boyfriend finally moved out.
“You can’t make an apple hang like a peach.”
I ask you to draw a picture about what you’re going to do this summer.
after about five minutes, you walk up to me with your drawing.
Tell me about it…
You comma in the moment,
pivot your head,
and point to it.
“It’s a picture of you
and my mom
at the stars.”
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