Screen Shot 2019-07-24 at 3.11.46 PM.jpg

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

and beating

behind a classroom door.

04.19 | New Hymns