Alison Luterman

(New England)

Sidewalk Story


The afternoon had a flu-like quality, gray and threatening to burst into tears at any moment, but I held it together like a grown-up, taught my classes, smiled at the children. I was in love with one little boy who couldn't write, not one idea in his head despite my encouraging crouch near his desk so long my knees were stiff and rising I almost passed out.

The sky drained of color but plenty of gray light. The teachers nodded sympathetically and said That flu is horrible go home, get some rest.

On the sidewalk thronged the children like little commuters, with their plastic slickers and empty lunch boxes, waiting for their mothers to come pick them up in big shiny minivans. I tottered into poisonous air, head aching with flu, ears ringing with the fever of five hours teaching, saying 'Good! Good! That's great, that's wonderful,' in a high sincere voice.

The children are so smart, I can't take it sometimes.
The way some of them will turn and look straight through me

Then I noticed the girl on the sidewalk, face the color of skimmed milk, ginger hair limp and straight, cut hopelessly to the chin. A small sad storybook of a second-grader, trying to evade her oppressor who in this case was wearing a puffy pink ski jacket and tormenting grin. The bigger girl walked backward blocking the small one from wherever it was she wanted to go. The little victim tried to get around her,

couldn't; tried, couldn't, dodged,
head down, resigned,

the only object now being not to let anyone see me cry. It was myself of course. I stood rooted next to my foggy car, keys in hand, smelling the wet asphalt. Oh that tragically trembling chin! How did I get to be middle-aged, delirious from teaching these children for years, coaxing them to flower into the brutally onrushing future, into the mystery of their fates where poetry may or may not help them?

Then I remembered

and stepped forward.
Took her hand,
cool and fresh as milk,
trusting, in my own fevered paw,
and tall now, sidestepped the taunting girl.

But I wanted to talk to her!
the bully persisted, grinning, still grinning--
the awful, relentless, pasted-on grin--

As if I hadn't been on that side of it too.
As if I didn't know.

Submitted: Thursday, March 15, 2012

Do you like this poem?
0 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (Sidewalk Story by Alison Luterman )

Enter the verification code :

There is no comment submitted by members..

Trending Poets

Trending Poems

  1. रंजानाय फैगौ, Ronjoy Brahma
  2. Nothing Gold Can Stay, Robert Frost
  3. Alone And Drinking Under The Moon, Li Po
  4. Alone, Edgar Allan Poe
  5. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  6. Christmas Trees, Robert Frost
  7. O Captain! My Captain!, Walt Whitman
  8. If, Rudyard Kipling
  9. Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
  10. Dreams, Langston Hughes

Poem of the Day

poet Li Po

Amongst the flowers I
am alone with my pot of wine
drinking by myself; then lifting
my cup I asked the moon
to drink with me, its reflection
and mine in the wine cup, just
...... Read complete »

   

Member Poem

poet Marvin Brato Sr

[Hata Bildir]