Light falls across a room,
a glass bird on a shelf
catches sunshine in early evening,
breakfast smells come up the same old stairs–
these form the seasons of a home.
A girl finds refuge in dependable light after a tough day
on the playground, or after getting off the bus
on the corner of Lake Street and 14th when the boy
with the red shirt teases her about her skinny legs.
Yet in my room kids breathe in quick- step,
stutter into my class arm and arm with anxiety.
Ten- year old Lee, whose mother works the night shift,
arrives in the same impeccable blouse
and jeans each day. She has taken her baby brother
to the neighbor’s house, carrying Justin on one thin hip
from the Shelter to the old woman with too many cats .
I create order out of chaos for the few hours
I have them with me, the few months they live in my neighborhood.
If I can touch their shoulder, nudge them awake as they
drift off some afternoons, after a night
trudging to a new bed, clothes in a pillow case
bumping against their knees, wanting only somewhere
soft, I can give them a season. Perhaps the slant of
sun beams changing from March to April, can hold them.
Sadie comes early, bustles to help me assemble
crayons, paper, scissors, while Troy
dances through the doorway 8th week in a row
still home, still here. We silently bless consecutive days, turn
toward the board and begin our work:
how to tell time
how to predict the weather,
how to measure rainfall.
I hold my breath until they are before me each morning:
homeless, drifting kids;
I relax when they appear in front of me,
for at least one more
day of snow against my window.
I sleep easy until
Somewhere she claims one corner
of one room for
her consistent stuffed dog,
her red diary book.
I lose hope when
Troy does not twirl
through the door,
on a Monday after vacation.
My classroom is bereft of his song.
I picture him, over on the North side of the city, trying
to get used to the way the season changes
in a windowless schoolroom, bending over a book
under fluorescent, a new teacher laying her hand
gently on his shoulder, asking him his name.
Julie Landsman, Julie Landsman website