Friday, March 26, 2010

a chance to see

You start to see what everyone else sees. What they see in themselves. You start to edge over toward the rest of the world: defining them through their failures; defining them as their crimes. You start to write them off.

This is not what they need from you. They already have all of it in abundance. But they are good actors, solid in their stage skills. It's been a long drive, a long week and you lose perspective and believe their hype.

Until it comes back to you without any doubt: they are kids. Scared. Desperate. Kids.

They begin to write the poetry they swore they wouldn't. It is part hip hop rhythm, part suicide note. They find an empty corner of the room and whisper out the beats, getting it down. They write long pieces that start “I miss my dad,” and tell of horrors you can't imagine that make you think of them more as heroes than thugs. That make you wonder how the system ever expected them to make it out of this hole when the roots they send them back to are poisoned. That make you wonder who hugs these children. Or they arrive beside you, hopeful - “It's a song. The teacher in the next room has a guitar. Do you want to hear it?” You listen. And for a few minutes both of you are transported out of this room that smells of separation and obligation, to a place where two parents wait eagerly, they are alive and sober; everything around is soft; everything is okay.


bobbie said...

Teaching these children has been quite an experience for you, hasn't it?

They have been lucky to have had you as a teacher. I'm sure that at least one or two of them will remember you all their lives, and it will be a good memory.

Susannah said...

This thought: when you edge away and open to possibilities in another, the possibilities open. I love hearing these stories.

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