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One day, while standing on the playground, I had an epiphany. I looked out over a hundred children, playing, running, yelling, laughing, and crying. It hit me that I stood in a place where millions of journeys had begun – on blacktops like this one. More than a playground, I was standing at a starting point, at the mouth of the river itself. What tremendous, unthinkable good luck to have traveled to this point, on this day, in this ineffable time. 

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Also, in Teaching with Heart: Poetry that Speaks to the Courage to Teach a diverse group of ninety teachers describe the complex of emotions and experiences of the teaching life – joy, outrage, heartbreak, hope, commitment and dedication. Check it out at . . .

 

 

Free

A narrow path runs through the garden patch along the playground’s west side. There, at the point where asphalt ends, I encountered Daphne. She came from behind and shouted “Hey!” snapping me upright. I turned to see a small-boned seven year-old, with a delicate face and gentle eyes looking into mine. She lifted a tiny plastic container close to my […]

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No

Sunday! I dumped the contents of my shoulder bag on the rug. Time to cast out the week past. Tomorrow would permit space for itself alone. Such was my thought as I poked through the artifacts at my feet. Then, I found a plastic eight ball, smaller than the real thing, but hard and heavy […]

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Twist

This morning, a frantic call came over the office PA system from Ms. Knickerbein, the yard duty teacher. “Tell the principal to come right away! A boy has crawled under the steps and won’t come out!” She went on about how she had told him to come out FIVE times but I had all I […]

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Roar

Four fifth grade girls stood in a tight circle at the four square court. Arms folded and jaws tight, they leaned in, cutting sideways glances toward a stout ten year old named Wanda. Wanda, in her homemade, floral print dress and new sneakers, looked down. She stood ten yards away. I had seen such a […]

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Tethered

Late yesterday, I stood on the empty playground at the foot of the tetherball pole, talking to myself about cutting the pole down. “That’s it!” I said. In my right hand, I held a hacksaw. The job I had in mind would require about five minutes. Even before yesterday, however, I had closed book on tetherball. […]

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Face

Just yesterday, I spotted Marcus and Mateo from a distance as the younger one, Marcus, climbed a rusted fence. Marcus intended to flee. Mateo, however, had snagged younger Marcus by the shredded cuff of his jeans, and I saw that as the younger boy climbed, his pants stayed behind. The elder snared the younger from […]

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Rain

Sixty kindergartners and I sat huddled in the cafeteria. Rain slapped against the windows and the roar of falling water came on strong. The rumble alone brought a hush to this bundled little pack of five year-olds. Rico, the roundest five year-old I had ever met, stood with face pressed against the room’s big window. He held both […]

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Tribal

Hunched over my desk on a Friday – filling out forms – I let more than an hour slip by before I lifted my head to look out the office window. Smoky sun dust trailed to the west. September dusk yawned orange over an empty playground. Where had everyone gone? Was I the last man […]

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Glow

If I stand anywhere on the playground, I have no trouble tracing the steps that led me to that point. Blacktop, for the most part, is solid, hard, and real. But the playground I stand on these days also radiates as if all the little feet that have run over it have imparted something more […]

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Cracked

Four young girls got into a scrape on the yard. One nudged another in passing. The other took the nudge as a shove. Then came two right jabs, one left hook, a trail of tears, parent meetings, and a juicy black eye. I had just these bits and pieces – half-sketched details that hinted at […]

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