"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Teacher

It's time for what seems to have become my once-a-month post. If I want time to write these days, I must get up at 4 o'clock in the morning. The children here in Michigan are all back in school and it seems appropriate to finally post this poem that has been in my drafts folder since last winter. I think most everyone has a teacher in the family, or as a friend. This is for them, the real heroes of today.


The kindergarteners have to pee all the time and want their mothers.
She plays her piano for them and buys crayons and gold stars with her own money.

The first graders have learned to lie
and she takes away their stars.

The second graders build alliances and rat on each other.
She buys maps of the world and teaches outside the test.

The third graders are clothes whores.
She works up their lesson plans to the sweep of the janitor.

T
he fourth graders invent new allergies and disorders
and she pleads for more recess time to make them fit and strong.

The fifth graders forge their parent’s signatures
and she steels herself for the conference.

The middle school students pierce their bodies and experiment.
She pleads for music in the classroom and a place for art.
But they took away her piano and told her to teach to the test.