An Apple For the Teacher

Helen's Poems About Her Students

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Blackboard
I

Leo


First, there was Leo
With shining deep brown eyes,
An olive skin,
and thick black, curling hair
Infected with pediculosis.

He brought big fat live snails
To school.
He said his father raised them
They ate them fried
For breakfast.



II

Billy


And there was
Snub-nosed,
Freckled Billy
With the glittering
Irish charm.
He liked the front seat
Best, he said --
So he could be near
Teacher.
Readin', 'Ritin', 'Rithmetic
Were evils meant to
Plague him.
But mischief --ah--
He shone there.
And teachers --oh--
He read them like a book
And wrapped them neatly
Right around his finger.



III

Raymond


Among the children
Of the fourth grade
Class
Sat Raymond,
Tow-headed
Big-boned
Slow-moving
Inarticulate.

He was a plodder,
Striving
Methodical
Slow, silent.
His big-boned body,
Clumsy fingers
Were not fashioned
For the intricate small
Tasks of school.

He never bothered anyone.
He never got in trouble
As small boys in school
Are prone to do.

He answered questions always
With a muttered yes or no.
He sat there silent,
Clumsy, slow.

Not sullen in his silentness
Nor stupid in his slowness,
With a light of understanding
Shining in his eyes,
But with a clumsy body,
Shackled tongue.

His teacher tried to fling
A bridge of language
Across the deep abyss of silence,
To reach the little island
Where his spirit dwelt alone.

She always met the blank
Stone wall of Raymond's
Inarticulateness.
Until one day she questioned
With friendly gentle voice,
"Raymond, what do you like
Best to do?"

And suddenly-
"I like to plow" he said.
And with a gush of confidence
"I like the feel of dirt
Beneath my feet."


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