After Sending Senior Girls to The Principal
By 20 minutes in, I’ve asked two girls to go.
A third erupts. I say nothing. She is gone.
Seamless anger is how they leave.
Our class is quiet now. Order’s price
is weighed in thoughts. Is there remorse?
Critique of me?
At lunch, I pull aside the one I love the most.
I ask her of regret. She says her choice was sound.
It was your mood, she tells me. I had to go.
I ask her if she’d like to know about my mood,
what made it, how it felt. Reluctance
says sure. I tell her
how it feels to know that
I will soon let her into a world
callous and sharp without traction.
I’m scared that she doesn’t write
well enough, doesn’t know her tone,
doesn’t yet love herself.
I don’t say how much I’ll miss her.
We’re in the small room with the plastic spoons
and the microwaves. Kids come and go.
My face finds its ridges. My eyes draw
tight and I could weep or could stop myself.
She cries with me, salty rolling globes.
Kids heat their meals, gather utensils,
hardly notice. We’re so quiet, standing here,
looking at each other, knowing
that this how we teach and how we learn.