Encouragement

Tue, 12/10/2013 - 16:57 -- joellec

A misplaced smirk sneaks onto my face

as I enter the sea-foam walls

of my tenth-grade Spanish class.

 

I remember last year,

collecting coveted A’s on crisp paper

as my older classmates

scratched at their facial hair

and relentlessly whispered “por qué no?”

in bad accents when I would not let them

glance at my test.

 

This year will be facil.
 

Her light orange strands do not move as she does.

she smiles by stretching her mouth in a line across her face,

exposing wrinkles and blue eyes that are

protective of the light that lives inside of them,

if there is any at all.

 

For the first time,

my well-formulated answers are

ripped out from underneath me

because I cannot “just get to the point.”

Incorrect conjugations warrant droplets of

serpent spit on the desks.

 

We huddle together to protect our pride,

counting the number of times she insults someone

under her breath in the language

she’s certain we do not understand,

the language she is supposed to be teaching.

 

Because “chicos, esta clase es honores!

We should know what these words mean.

Instead, we are “uncultured”

because we cannot bark back

obscure capital cities on command.

 

I can feel her grin burning through my back

when I tell my guidance counselor’s computer

that, perhaps, honores is just not for me.

And so, I spend my junior year

reuniting with the A’s and angst-filled comments

about how I read the passages too quickly.

But I do not mind;

I will not sacrifice my right to make mistakes,

my right to truly learn,

for honors credit.

 

Thankfully, this year, I do not have to.

my teacher has tiny glasses,

a voice that sounds more like an open gate

than barbed wire,

and she likes to dance around the room.

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