...quiet, about a lot of things...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The artists way...for Poetry Thursday

My artist date, I suppose, takes place in the classroom. I'm back to work, and have finally hit my WALL. I always knew there would be one kid who would break me...not my spirit, but my heart. I met him on Tuesday. His name sounds like a sonnet, very lyrical. But that just it..the problem. He is a selective mute. He does not speak...at all. I've heard rumors that he will, with his mother, but, rumors are rampant at school.

Frankly, the behavior of some of my peers at school makes my blood run cold. Don't get me wrong. These are really hard kids to work with some times. Sometimes you kid yourself, you tell yourself that your task is impossible. You just do the best you can. In moments of dull faithless void, you even may suppose, its all a game the child is playing, to get attention. I hear that one A LOT. Funny, how we so accurately identify the excuses of others, and call our own same diversions by a different name...reasons.

The hard truth is, perhaps we will not fix any of these kids. Perhaps they are not broken. Perhaps they are just different. But, for some I fear, it's just that they are too broken. Their souls splintered before kindergarten. They are the end of a fairy tale that was never true. Happily ever after is more often than not, a lie.

But then he lifts his blue eyes, for just a second, and I begin to believe again. I will look harder today for the right magic wand.

Selective

I.

There must be a genius
between your eyes
trimmed with wisps
of wheaten hair
soft as young
corn silk tassels.

They accuse you
of willful intent.
not playground mischief
or hide and seek.
They call you
a cheater.


They say your
silence is a lie.
A ploy for seconds.
An excuse to cut in line
to take more
than your share
of love and attention.


Someone heard you in
the grocery aisle,
ask you Mother for your
favorite breakfast cereal.
The spy dropped her
eggs on the floor.
She let her milk
go to sour, to run
to report you.

You could.
She had heard it
with her own ears.
You just won't.

II

For two whole years
not one word.
enough silence to fill
a lifetime.


III

Now you are mine
to crack like
an oyster.

But you made
this pearl.
It's your
grain of sand,
not mine.

Have you grown a
bone of stillness
inside you
soul?

I will not pry
you open.

I will wait
and take you
to shallow
safe water.



wlf 8:11am

The way to Poetry Thursday is twisted.. come on, I know a short cut... Its right Here

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posted by wendy at 7:46 AM

22 Comments:

This is fantastic. Not just the empathy and compassion displayed (which, on their own, are a miraculous thing), but your words and images. I particularly love the lines:
"She let her milk
go to sour, to run
to report you."
and the entire third "oyster" section. I don't know if you're making much progress on your novel, but taking the time out to write this was worth it.

11/9/06, 9:21 AM  

A beautiful poem, as lyrical as his name must be. You are a fine writer and an exceptional teacher! What a soul you have!

11/9/06, 10:48 AM  

ahhhhhhhh...
this is perfect
and so so so true...

i work with a child
with autism and so much
of what you say rings true,
and i bet it would ring
true for the parents too...

this was wonderfully done!

11/9/06, 11:44 AM  

now you are mine
to crack like
an oyster. . .

love it!

11/9/06, 12:22 PM  

Uggggh! What a heart-breaking story! Your poem is wonderful. I can really feel your frustration and longing to make a difference! May you find the right magic wand and quickly – for with children there isn’t a moment to lose.

11/9/06, 3:07 PM  

this poem is so tender and beautiful.

you know, maya angelou had a period in her life when she stopped talking...

11/9/06, 3:43 PM  

I once worked with an autistic child who looked me squarely in the eyes and told me, "You're fat." He was right! :)

11/9/06, 9:17 PM  

What a heartbreaking story and a beautiful poem. You have a tender heart and tremendous strength.

11/9/06, 9:35 PM  

Just gorgeous! I really admire you for working with these kids. When others seem to lack compasion they are lucky to have someone who can see their beauty.

11/10/06, 1:07 AM  

Beautiful poem. I really like how you broke up the stanzas into different parts. I really like the image of a child being taken to "shallow safe water"

11/10/06, 6:30 AM  

Wow, Wendy. I admire your courage to listen to your heart. We don't know everything going on inside another person, so we really can't make a judgment of why people do what they do. You're choosing to love him the way he is, accept him, instead of trying to fix him like he's a broken toy. What a wise teacher you are. Such a beautiful poem; I could almost see that face, the blue eyes staring back at you.

And, thank you for your comment on my haiku post. I try to be a fun mother and accept my kids the way they are. Your poem inspires me to go deeper with that acceptance, which is not the easiest thing with my 12 year old. She is my teacher.

11/10/06, 7:28 AM  

lovely poem, as patient and soothing as that child needs. I also like that the spy dropped her eggs.

11/10/06, 7:35 AM  

Wow, you really do have a way with words, don't you? Eloquent and heart-wrenching.

11/10/06, 8:36 AM  

You respond to this child, and I'm sure to other children in your care -- with such compassion, insight, gentleness -- he will give you a true gift in return someday.

Your poem is exquisite, Wendy. Someone else wrote that is it heart-breaking, heart-wrenching. Yes - and I would say, heartfelt.

Your words move along slowly, quietly, gently -- just the way it seems you look at this child -- really look at him -- to see who he is inside his silence. Other people may glance at him and make snap judgements or define him according to their preconceived ideas about whether he is faking or really hurting. You really look. Your poem is like that, too. Thoughtful seeing.

I love the last line: I will wait and take you to shallow safe water

Patience and heart. One of the most heartfelt poems I've read in a long time. :)

11/10/06, 9:56 AM  

I echo the other comments. Very lovely and touching.

11/10/06, 1:17 PM  

You write beautiful words and paint an even more effective landscape.

BTW, I tagged you!
You're it!post

11/10/06, 4:53 PM  

You are clearly a wonderful, wonderful teacher, and writer! Your students are lucky to have you, that you see them, really see them. Curses on those spoiled milk teachers who see and care little! Horray for you spirit!

11/10/06, 9:19 PM  

A bone of stillness in the soul.

Haunting....

11/13/06, 3:00 PM  

Beautifully written, Wendy. You are a gem and those children are so lucky to have you in their corner. xo

11/18/06, 6:02 AM  

I got here via Paris Parfait and what a treat to find such an eloquent and beautiful story and poem -- as Tara said, you are a gift to the children you work with. much peace, JanePoe

11/19/06, 3:21 PM  

I've been having less time to read blogs lately, but I'm so glad I wandered over here out of a Sunday Scribbling post. This is a wonderful piece of writing, and that child is so lucky to have found himself in your care.

11/20/06, 2:47 AM  

I have worked with one kid with Selective mutism. It is not generally willful and it is very common that a kid will talk at home if not at school or with strangers. The kid I worked with was responding to family secrets but the cause is different for different children. He deserves to be treated with more respect than some of your colleagues are showing. Perhaps they should read up on his disorder.
Beautiful post.

11/20/06, 6:57 PM  

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