In First Grade
I was afraid my peanut butter sandwich
wouldn’t have the proper jelly ratio.
I worried that worms would drown
in puddles, that Janelle would call me
Lasagna, that the spelling test
would have too many ck words.
I was anxious, vaguely,
about Cold War communists.
Beside my bed a shoebox
of prized possessions
(cobalt beads, a rooster tailfeather,
my doll Nellie’s winter cloak)
sat within reach in the night
in case the Russians came
and we had to run for it.
I believed in witches, especially
the one hunkered beneath my bed.
After flicking the switch at nine
I’d fling myself toward the mattress
from three feet out, toes
safely tucked up.
The things that terrify
first graders now
are real live men
with Second Amendment guns
hunting school corridors
for anything bright
behind a classroom door.
04.19 | New Hymns