The kids all looked bored.
Then it was my turn.
“I’ve been writing interesting poems in Miss Sweetmallow’s class. She said we could write about whatever we wanted, and that made poetry a lot more fun.” Bran and Marty cheered. “But then she challenged me to write a nice poem. I wasn’t planning to do it, because nice poems are really boring. But our whole class has missed Miss Sweetmallow this week, so I wrote a nice poem for her.”
The grown-ups all nodded and smiled. Miss Sweetmallow beamed like a flashlight–the big one like Alex brained me with on our camping trip last year. But the kids all looked shocked. I heard Leila whisper, “Louis wrote a nice poem? No way.”
I took a deep breath.
A Get Well Poem for Miss Sweetmallow
You try to stay healthy–avoid slime and grime,
but I’m sort of surprised you’re not sick all the time.
You work in your garden, you dig through the worms–
One spoonful of soil has billions of germs!
You swim in an ocean that’s full of fish snot.
How much of that sea do you swallow? A lot!
You eat tons of honey. It’s golden and thick.
But bees make that honey by vomiting–ick!
Your smooth peanut butter has tiny bug parts!
I’m not making this up–there are government charts!
You love to look after your two favorite mutts,
who maybe have tapeworms that swim in their guts.
You climb into bed and the dust mites all grin.
They can’t wait to gobble your flaked-off dead skin.
But no matter how blechy and nasty you feel,
a great poem like this has the power to heal!
Miss Sweetmallow shook her head back and forth, but kept smiling.
The audience exploded into cheers. “Lou-is! Lou-is! Lou-is!” The chant got louder and louder.
Well, the kids chanted and cheered, anyway. The grown-ups looked a little confused, like they weren’t sure what my poem meant.
But that’s ok. If they were too old to enjoy my self-expression, too bad.
The chanting continued. Kids even stood up!
A standing ovation. For my poems.
Alex and Daisy were clapping too. Dad’s face looked kind of red, but he clapped, too. Mom dug around in her purse with her head practically in her lap.
Even Mr. Jones, mostly untangled from bubble gum, clapped politely from the side of the stage. His shoes were gone, and he wore socks with bulldozers all over them.
My chest felt like it might explode into a thousand bits of bone. And the noise of the clapping was about to make me float right up to the ceiling.
Mrs. Sweetmallow was right–poetry actually can burn my soul.
Or maybe that’s just Marty again.
[but come back tomorrow for a note from the author]
Also, it’s the last Poetry Friday of Poetry Month 2016. Buffy Silverman has the Poetry Friday Roundup, including a fun, musical poem by a toad:>)