This is a poem I wrote five years ago about one of my sweet little students, a 5 year old with autism and OCD, who I worked with at a little country school. The cutest little boy you've ever seen, scrawny, with freckles and brown straight hair that stayed a little tousled no matter what his poor mom did to it.
"Easy," you say, "Easy."
Like a warning sign
or a post-it note hung on a morning mirror.
We leave the classroom in jolts as you coach your feet,
to be easy, tread softly on the hard surfaces.
The glaring tile of the hall,
the rough painted brick of the wall,
the sharp clicks of
the metal doors,
they are not easy.
So you clench fists and scrunch toes in tightly-tied shoes to absorb the shock of walking,
down this school hall.
You clench teeth and narrow your eyes
as wave upon wave of flailing, swirling line leaders and cabooses
wiggle their way
down the opposite side of the hall,
As we pass by the library,
you are suddenly struck with wonder.
"Look!" you call out.
Your voice is no longer easy.
"Look, a galaxy!"
Stars and moons and planets and spacemen
are painted on ceiling tiles in this section of the hall.
Your face unravels from its sharp lines,
melts into a typical boy grin.
You look up at me
for the first time since leaving the classroom,
and there is awe
in the creases of your eyes.
This is what I work for.
Why I wake at dawn and drive
sleepy and fast
through the darkness of farm towns
to this dusty brick building.
"Yes, I see, it's a spaceman!" I say.
But I am looking at the older children walking across the hall.
They seem confused, as if they've missed something.
Perhaps they have.
They have likely never looked up to see the space scene before.
Their heads turn up now as we pass by,
and they too are suddenly transported,
caught up in the excitement
of a daily trek down the hall,
with a brief detour through outer space.