“Hey!” he said as he looked both ways
and tentatively crossed our busy street.
“Do you know where the middle school is?”
It was 8:15.
We were about to get into our car,
drive to Milwaukee to the art museum—
a diversion for me, a newly retired teacher.
School had started two days ago.
Backpacked kids, sort of awake,
were having contests burping their breakfast
as they walked past our house.
They were leaving their 6th grade, 8th grade,
freshman year footprints
on our sidewalk.
This young man, a new 6th grader—
I reckoned—though afraid,
had the gumption to ask directions.
“You see that one way sign down there,
at the end of the block?
You go down that street to the left.
That’s where your school is.
Are you new here?”
“No. It’s just this is the first day
I’ve had to walk to school alone.”
Tears were building in his eyes,
eyes that would stare at white boards,
SMART boards, and papers all day.
“I hope you have a good day!
Make it a good day!” I said to him,
my own tears welling
for all those students I no longer can direct.
© by Marilyn Zelke-Windau.
Used with the author’s permission.