Mrs. Bontrager’s Room (Day 12, 2016)

I have been participating in National Poetry Writing Month for twelve days now…

Mrs. Bontrager’s Room

Mrs. Bontrager kept 
a set of World Book encyclopedias
on a shelf under the windows
of her first grade classroom
and she placed me next to it
so I could explore those volumes
if I finished my assignments early.
An upright piano sat in the corner
and she would play
Sousa marches and
Christmas carols
and sing for us
melodies that echoed through decades.
In that room
I learned 
how to spell supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
and that Burr killed Hamilton
and how to draw a star
and that I needed glasses.

She died recently,
the news from home
offered via my father
on a phone call
I had not expected 
would flatten me.
She was not a young woman
and I was not surprised
so much as returned to that room,
where I was taught to love 
reading and American history
because a teacher cared enough
to sit me next to encyclopedias
and sing patriotic songs
and let me choose my own spelling words.

In some ways
I am still six years old
turning glossy pages 
to find Davey Crockett
so I can understand 
what I’ve seen on TV
and I can still hear her voice
drawing me back
to what I should be doing.

(For Joanna Bontrager, 1940-2016)



About semiblind

Bringing you stark existentialism since 1981.
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