Kindergarten, Plainview Elementary School

They come to her in little groups,

windblown, trudging and wobbly,

singing or brightly silent. This morning,

some yawn with their whole bodies,

hungry perhaps, or knuckled up around

big new questions. These three need help

with the arcane loops and branches

of their letters: two blonde, sun-dazed girls

and a boy with both shoes untied.

The student teacher sits quite still,

bird-alert, while they circle and settle.

She says “I need your eyes” and waits

a tantalizing beat before today’s work

is splayed like a card trick just for them

onto the half-round table: capital A’s

in perfect rows on bright white paper,

chunky highlighters for tracing, and

new, yellow pencils. She says “Start here,”

pointing for the girls while her gaze

is glued front-and-center on the boy.

He dabs his pencil as if stirring

a pond, then wilts and slides

like a Slinky from his curved blue chair,

and springs up and slides again, so

she uses the teacher look she’s practiced

at home, and he gets right down to work.

She says “I knew you could do it,”

though maybe she didn’t until now,

sitting back so they’ll try their best,

noses nearly smudging their papers.

Then it’s time for a rhyming game:

frog and dog count, but mog does not.

“Who wants to put these away

for me?” she asks, and they all do.

She calls out, “Walk in the hall,”

so they skip and dance, glancing back

for her eyebrow’s arch to march

them off in step, chanting magic:

Apple, Ant…Alli-gator…

Scott Lowery

Scott Lowery is a poet, musician and retired educator, recently relocated to Milwaukee from rural Minnesota. His poems appear currently in Nimrod, River Styx, Ocotillo Review, Bramble, and RockPaperPoem, and a new chapbook, Mutual Life (Finishing Line), comes out in August 2023. Find more, including workshops with young poets, at

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