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Note to the Teacher on the First Day of School

chalkdoorThe following poem by Sherron Killingsworth Roberts was published in Language Arts, Vol. 76, No.1, September 1998. In it, she asks us to consider complex questions of attentiveness and care as we welcome children back to school.

What a source of worry you are,
Unknown entity and guardian of my child’s questions.

Parents leaping puddles and snatching hugs
There is only time for sparse introductions and feigned delights, as
We hand over our treasure.

We calculate your moves and each word you use,
While we try to make you ours, you study the line.

“Children, line up,” your voice sings.
a dilemma begins at the back of the line unnoticed.

“Children, line up.”
only three words to analyze.

“Children, line up.”
the dilemma persists.
shall the child stand in a mud puddle
to ensure the straightness of the line?

And I leave, as the children file in
Their sincere line as beautifully straight as can be.
Wide-eyed, eager and worried to please.
Straight as an arrow!
I leave

worried about the importance of the line.