As we start the new year, I find myself reflecting on my student teaching. I came across a post I’d saved during those months to which I couldn’t find a proper introduction. I don’t know that I ever will. I just know that the more I learn about each of these humans in front of me, the more urgent and fervent my need to provide support becomes – however small what is in my power may be. How do I sustain that automatic desire to help over a lifetime of potentially lost beautiful souls without becoming jaded or dismissive or predictive of “they’re bound to fail” – because that’s the risk.

Care for yourself as hard as you care for those kids who will haunt you for decades – easier said than done. This is for you, A. 




That first day, I watched

your faded blue hair slink

into a chair at the back

of the classroom.


Everything about you

matched the document I’d read.

Except your eyes –

Hollow crazed windows…


The way they stared

out of your face, stretched too

tautly in their sockets, pushing

out and into others

While you hid


behind a screen of constant panic

bitten nails, tattered red skin

framing each fingertip.

Hands tucked

beneath your overlarge sweatshirt.


Recommend books about fairies

to you, you said.


Did you wish to fly away

with them, under your frayed and hollow

bleached and over-dyed halo?


Somewhere in that head

lie thoughts I’ll never know

that the world will never hear.

What are your dreams?


Of what do I know absolutely nothing?


You know little or less of me than I do of you,

and we’ve both assumed.

Yet every time you cried in the corner

it pulled a corner of my heart out,

a fragment that went to you

that I’ll never get back.


Did the fairies remember

to give it to you? Did I lose it?

Was I too cold, too close…?

How could I help?


The thing is, I don’t know.


I don’t know how

to give, what my class can help you with.

You need more than me, you need more

than your therapist –

you need YOU.


How does a middle-schooler

become themselves

When no one is there to frame

their world?

To tell them they are enough?


You are enough. With all

your mistakes – even because of them.

I’ll always want you to know that. Always.

Always. Always.


Your face will line the walls

of my memory.


You are enough.


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