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.
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
When no one is there to frame
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.
Your face will line the walls
of my memory.
You are enough.