Last Day of School

I wrote this poem about a month ago, and I recited it at Fifth Grade Night on Wednesday, June 12, and just this morning at my graduation. It is very special to me because I wrote it while crying, trying to say goodbye to my elementary school teachers.

The air is heavy

with the whispers of tears to come,

and I am light-headed, drunk 

on the heady perfume of summer.

I am floating, weightless,

in this sea of people, some so familiar

I’ve stopped calling them by name

and read the tiniest flick of their eyes

as a full conversation.

Some are faces freshly placed in my head,

soon to slip into a ghost of a memory,

but the ones who keep catching my eye

without trying

are the ones who I look up to,

the ones who’ve been my caretakers and protectors

for six entire years

while I grew by millimeters and inches

and by leaps and bounds and flowers and words and words and words

and teaching

because these are my teachers.

Teachers, you are life to me.

You taught me how to let my defenses drop,

one by one,

until I was breathing in time with another

and I could let my body melt

into my best friend’s shoulder.

You taught me how to press my pencils gently,

smoothing my scribbles into vaguely elegant curves

that would shape my world forever.

You taught me how to let the words speak for themselves,

blooming into cream-white peonies

and sunset-in-a-cup zinnias

climbing across ruined brick walls, sprouting leaves

faster and faster until the wall crumbles and my breath catches

and whatever it was I was saying stops.

You taught me to turn pages like they were holy scrolls,

which they are,

studded with constellations of ink telling stories long repeated

by generation after generation,

running my fingers along the words as I tried to understand,

but never touching the paper.

You taught me to use my razor-sharp tongue

overflowing with things to say

for good,

for praise,

because words hold power, language holds rule,

and poets and writers hold wonder.

You taught me to laugh,

to breathe deep and feel the delight in the air,

to smile, genuinely smile,

to love,

to cry,

to truly see,

and today,

I am laughing and breathing and smiling and loving 

and truly truly seeing

how you have made my world a paradise.

Teachers, you are life to me.






11 years old

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