Monday, November 14, 2011

Mag 91 -- Ms. Brooks' students do Poetry Day

She was really pissed, in spite of this strange feeling of long-desired weightlessness, and she wanted to make it clear to her class that she did not appreciate the prank. This was unacceptable. Moving their chairs out into a dewy pasture at the crack of dawn on a foggy day was over-the-top, and the activity would not go unpunished once she had them all back inside the school.

Their voices were muted. She could not at all decide from which direction they came. Her irritation was of a sort she could not recall feeling before: this crankiness was accompanied by a deep sadness and sense of loss. She tried to grab the clearest voice from a puff of fog in the air, then wondered what made her do that. All she had to do was call out quite firmly for the students to come out from their hiding places and return to their seats immediately. It was Poetry Day, damnit, and she was anxious to hear them read their selections even if they weren't anxious to share.
In her calmest tone, she demanded they come to class. Then she raised her voice. Then she screamed and her screams sounded like whispers in her own ears which did not feel like ears chilled by fog, but like shells tumbling on the bottom of the sea. She clawed at the fog hoping for better vision of her escaped students, and stomped her feet to feel more grounded but no attempt at control worked.

Rudy suddenly came to her mind's eye, which was as focused—no, more focused—than were her big brown eyes now welling with tears. Rudy, the shyest boy she ever could imagine teaching, was her biggest challenge and her highest joy in this, her first year as a teacher. He had sobbed in fear of the assignment after class the day she had told the students to select any poem they liked to read aloud to the class the next week. Just last week. It seemed like long ago. But Rudy's voice was becoming clearer as she recalled soothing him and assuring him that she trusted he would pick a fine poem and would read it beautifully.

She cupped her seashell ear into the fog puff that brought Rudy's words. He was sounding brave and strong, telling what a great teacher Ms. Brooks was (He's talking about me!, she thought) and how rotten it was that she drowned, and how she deserved everyone to read their poems in front of the substitute teacher the best they could. And he would go first. He would read the poem he liked best and hope that she could hear him.

In the surreality of the moment she stood motionless, staring with her mind's eye in the direction of Rudy's voice as he read his poem:

Photography Extraordinary -by Lewis Carroll

The Milk-and-Water School
Alas! she would not hear my prayer!
Yet it were rash to tear my hair;
Disfigured, I should be less fair.

She was unwise, I may say blind;
Once she was lovingly inclined;
Some circumstance has changed her mind.

The Strong-Minded or Matter-of-Fact School
Well! so my offer was no go!
She might do worse, I told her so;
She was a fool to answer "No".

However, things are as they stood;
Nor would I have her if I could,
For there are plenty more as good.

The Spasmodic or German School
Firebrands and Daggers! hope hath fled!
To atoms dash the doubly dead!
My brain is fire--my heart is lead!

Her soul is flint, and what am I?
Scorch'd by her fierce, relentless eye,
Nothingness is my destiny!

Visit Magpie Tales to read other Mag 91s inspired by the photo prompt above.



Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness that was suddenly an odd twist.

Well done.

izzy said...

the best ! love it- Thanks.

Mama Zen said...


Brian Miller said...

nice...i love the twist in traverses the emotional field very well...funny i did not think of a prank as that would be a fun one...and then the tug the heart strings...

The Noiseless Cuckooclock said...


hedgewitch said...

A fine and luminous short story, definitely poetic prose, and a chilling cast somewhat dispelled by Carroll's sardonic poem at the end, read by the shyest boy in class, finding his voice. Why does the teacher have to die for this to work--because as Poe said, there's nothing more poetic than the death of a beautiful woman. Really enjoyed this, Lydia.

Doctor FTSE said...

It is a strange, sad ending . . well written.

Owen said...

Maybe the students just wanted to have class outside that day ?

Anonymous said...

I felt so much from this. What a way to draw us in!

Tumblewords: said...

Strange and eerie, but a good read!

Arnab Majumdar said...

A few days back, during an idle conversation with a friend, I was reminded of something I had read a long long time ago, about how a human being dies only when there is nobody left of earth to remember him. This one reminded me of that, again.

Very well crafted. :)

Arnab Majumdar

Muhammad Israr said...

wow... reminds me of the schooldays and all the punishments and mishiefs :) wonderful as always from the one and only you :)

Lydia said...

jane.~ Thanks. And it sure is good to have you back to blogging!

izzy~ You are so sweet. Thank you.

Mama Zen~ You probably won't share this with your daughter?! :)

Brian~ Hmmm. I wonder what it says about me that I thought about the prank angle. I actually was quite studious in the lower grades and not a prankster at all.

The Noiseless Cuckooclock~ Appreciate your visit, and wish I could return the favor. For some reason the link simply will not take me to an active site.

hedgewitch~ It pleases me no end that you enjoyed this one, and I cannot thank you enough for your thoughtful comments. :)

Doctor FTSE~ Many thanks, no tears!

Owen~ Uh huh. I always thought it sounded like a great idea but it never happened in any of my classes. :(

Amber Lee~ Aw, thank you so much.

Tumblewords~ I appreciate your comments!

Arnab Majumdar~ It seems a beautiful concept to me, the one you describe. Thank you for sharing it here and for your kind comments.

Muhammad Israr~ You honor me with your own memories and such dear comments.

Sue said...

What a terrific set-up. And the Carroll poem the perfect ending.


Kay McKenzie Cooke said...

What a great little story - I loved it; it gave me a real start! I like it when there's a twist I did not expect ... skillful writing. :)

Brandee Shafer said...

Very creative. I have a theory that her students drowned her. If they were anything like my sixth graders, it's a good possibility. It's a wonder the administration let her teach in a sleeveless dress and high heels. Well done. Very unique.

Lydia said...

Sue~ Thank you, and I am glad you said that about the Carroll poem. I wasn't quite sure, but feel okay about it now. :)

Kay McKenzie Cooke~ A writer I very much admire just said my post was "skillful writing"! Makes me feel really happy, and humbled too. Thank you.

Brandee Shafer~ Your comment wins five gold stars for surprising and delighting me. I was not prepared to hear from a teacher, and especially to have such a funny comment from one! Thanks much.

ds said...

Wonderful, Lydia. I love the addition of Carroll's poem at the end, to tie it up, so to speak. You told the story so well, it was a natural fit. Thank you.

Lydia said...

ds~ Thank you for this comment from you, and, as always, for your visit. :)



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