It's just poetry, it won't bite

New Kid

09.09.09 Posted in today's words by

Back-to-school poetry by Virginia’s own Jean M. Hendrickson! Each of Jean’s poems tells its own story in its own voice (Community and Death,),
and this is no exception. Here we read about starting at a new school
when it’s not a new experience. This is for all the kids starting at a
new school for the third time, or the fourth time, or the fifth time …
New Kid
By Jean M. Hendrickson

Here she is, surrounded by her stuff,
Georgia O’Keeffe poppies,
flats in every color, little pumps for church,
a pink sweater set: every girl in her last school had one
which is a guarantee that jeans and Ts with skulls
will be the style at the new school;
good luck talking mom into those.

She did summer reading–American Lit,
this school: English authors,
Spanish, instead of German,
zoology, not chemistry,
poly sci, sounds like a sad girl,
rather than government.

She dug out her protractor and compass
for geometry–AGAIN:
looks like she’ll never get to algebra.

She’s taken Maine, California,
New York, and Texas history,
American, but not world history.

She learned to print, but not write cursive,
short stories, not haiku,
to add, subtract, and multiply, not divide,
memorized Chaucer, but not one Shakespearean sonnet.

She plays clarinet and saxophone, can’t sing,
so, of course, the new school offers
chorus and choir, not band or orchestra.

Little brother’s making friends in the sandbox,
older brother’s found a pick-up softball game,
dad’s off doing whatever it is army officers do.

Mom’s in her bedroom crying–as usual.

Tomorrow, finding the girl’s room is the priority.

She practices her smile in the mirror
until her face hurts and she prays someone
will smile back.

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