— Dennis Richardson
This is where it really starts,
their struggle to learn
the days of the week,
months of the year,
numerals from one to one hundred,
The alphabet’s sounds
as the teacher pulls letters
into words that float in and out
of their young eyes, not anchored
like the word, water, poured into
Helen Keller’s hands. They don’t
yet know which word is water.
It’s also where they meet their
first new friends, see them every day,
work side by side on handouts,
sing with, learn with, play with at recess.
I was there when the teacher announced
at the end of the class
that Jadin would be leaving the school,
that today was his last day.
I saw his small heart fall apart,
huge gasps of air
shoot from his mouth,
fists turning in front of his eyes.
He turned toward me then stopped,
the students saying how much
they would miss him, their stunned
faces turned down as they left.
They couldn’t spell the word yet,
hadn’t seen it on the blackboard,
but they could feel it, like the water,
knew what it meant, instantly,
just as Jadin did.
— Sarah Richardson
Jadin is fine
has gone through a lot
another stepping stone
for him to grow
not the last one
for he is only five
had ms. unger for K
and papa for life