Oddments

In search of story


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Disconnections: May 26.18

Some years back, my little granddaughter was poking through my wallet and came across a small photograph of a boy. “Who’s this,” she asked, “and what’s he doing in your wallet?” I explained that he was a student I’d taught back in the long-ago 60s, and that I had resolved to keep it to remind me of the good things about teaching.

The other night I sat in the audience as that same granddaughter performed on the cello in the 8th-grade orchestra concert. In their pink and green hair and trendy jean knee-holes, with arms and legs that seemed to sprout longer even as we watched, they somehow stilled their cosmic exuberance with all eyes on their teacher. They made music and therefore life. They were wonderful. And hilarious.

Yesterday I came to the computer to check the weather before I headed out for Friday errands. And there it was: another school shooting. Noblesville West Middle School. About 40 miles north of me. Again and yet again. All the shootings have hit home, but this was more sinister. I think of the 7th-grade boy in my wallet, who stands for all the students I have known. I think of the eighth-grade orchestra. And I think of the guns and the blood. I cannot unthink it.

 

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Connections: February 20.18

Yesterday it happened

though I was adamantly opposed;

inevitability

didn’t make me more composed.

I argued, put my foot down,

but the truth was right out there:

my granddaughter was taller

by a hundredth of a hair.

 

 

Connections


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Connections: September 1.17

 

I took my own advice. Except instead of seeking out a shady park to watch kids, I went to my granddaughter’s junior-high tennis match.

I sat with her and her team. Granny on the bleachers! I got to tell them about how, back in the day, my friend Connie and I devised our own scoring system: the more bounces, the more points. (It worked for us.) That was their first look of wonder. Like at a museum.

I was overwhelmed by energy, smartphones, sketchbooks, never-ending chatter, good spirits, water bottles, and a desperate search for quarters for popcorn. And by the saintliness of good coaches.

I learned I can confound at least eight junior-high kids at one time by pronouncing it “Annie May” instead of “Anna May.” (“Yes, I know what anime is!” Grandma growled. “But who is Anna May?”) That was their second look of wonder.

I got to use one of my best retorts before an audience: “Well, YOU don’t know what pop-it beads were!” That gets her every time. Their third look of wonder.

In one of my former lives, I taught junior high, and, sitting there amid the cacophony and hormonal mayhem, I was reminded of why I loved that age. They are full of life and imagination and hilarity.

I don’t think my look was one of wonder but rather of gratitude.

There is hope. Lots of it.

 

Connections


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Connections: August 8.17

 My grandma’s tub had feet

and Olympic-pool-sized feeling

her toilet had a chain

that hung down from the ceiling.

More, the bathroom window

was tall and opened wide

so fresh air and scent of train

could cleanse the room inside.

Now I have this footless

peculiarity

someone mean invented

to taunt and bully me.

It can’t be cleaned without

risking tendinitis

when I fold to fit its contours

it gives me rigor mortis.

It’s called a garden tub

a pity and a shame

someone ought to sue

for slandering garden’s name.

The window can’t be opened

the toilet’s in a box

so I reach way back in memory

where my grandma’s bathroom rocks.

 

 

 

Connections