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  • Writer's pictureMr. C.

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

laces loosening

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”

Jackkkkkk! Jackkkkkkk!

Touretting my neck with each shriek,

you volley,

“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,

Valentine’s Day,

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

looking up

at the stars.”

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