It was one of those days.
You know what I’m talking about.
There was the tremor in the morning
that left everyone unsettled.
No plaster cracked or fell from the walls,
but we all still shuddered inside
sporadically throughout the day.
Actually, it started before that
when I forgot the words to the pledge
of allegiance, as if I was that no man
who is an island, bound to none.
Another teacher gave me the glare
that said I was being seditious,
but it was my brain in rebellion
against me, not my heart.
And then walking up the stairs
to the classroom, it was as if the tread
of my shoe was gone, every step
was wrong, the wetness of the morning fog
now squeaking off loudly on the stairs,
my foot slipping so I almost fell,
and then giving a flat tire
to the little fourth-grade girl
struggling up the stairs in front of me.
After the tremor, they were timid.
Afraid to ask questions, to take smart risks,
as if the stigma of the label of special education
had been stamped on them all.
They weren’t themselves, as if their nether selves
had crawled up and thrown their sacred selves down.
I didn’t teach a single thing that day.
I swear everything I did only hindered
their progress rather than aiding it.
My lesson plans weren’t on my clipboard.
I couldn’t find the copies I’d made
the previous day. The teacher’s edition
wasn’t on the shelf of my podium.
My every effort only enmeshed my students
in a net of incompetence and ignorance.
By the end of the day, we were a tuft,
a dense clump, of humanity.
I dismissed them at two,
and sat alone in my classroom until three
/ / /