How I longed to be picked
3rd grade 1953,
Mrs. Balzoni’s classroom.
Finally after math,
she wiped off the blackboard
releasing our minds to
drift out the windows
into afternoon light
or to plan our way home.
someone would be asked
to dust the erasers outside.
And today that someone
would be that quiet kid
sitting in the back—Me.
Delight streamed from my face
as I gathered them up
8 erasers into the grocery bag.
Out in the cold without a jacket
I began clapping them together hard
mittens making white clouds
of dust into playground air.
Coughing wildly I began pounding them
against the building’s brick.
When Gretchen came out to fetch me,
she yelled, “Oh, no! You can’t do that.
It’s against the rules.” I looked around
at my beautiful design, each pat
a brick of white. “She’s gonna kill you!”
she said and disappeared. I laughed,
then cried a little, as I took off my shirt
and began to erase.
About the Author: Larry Smith, director of Bottom Dog Press in Ohio. Smith is from the industrial Ohio Valley and a professor emeritus at Bowling Green State University with over a dozen books of fiction, poetry, and memoir.
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Image Credit: Frances Benjamin Johnson. “Bell Flower (campanula)” [between 1915 and 1935] image courtesy of the Library of Congress