Thursday, June 2, 2022

Students Have Awful Memories

Mrs. Christian (her real name
And her preferred description)
Taught at Pequannock Valley

Kindergarten in those years,
From somewhere in the thirties
Until 1968,

By which point she resembled
A Far Side caricature—
Beehive perm, cats-eye glasses.

Her kindergarten had rules
Consonant with her surname
And her preferred description

As she understood them both
To mean—no euphemisms
Such as gosh darn it or gee whiz,

No Batman-themed merchandise,
No doll-type toys for the boys,
Not even brave GI Joe,

No pants or shorts for the girls.
She used to rap some knuckles,
Back in her earlier days,

As she disapproved of Spock
And lenient parenting,
But she’d learned knuckle-rapping

Was a habit of the nuns,
And she disapproved of nuns
And wanted it to be clear

She wasn’t one. She was just
A Christian, she said crisply,
Maybe once or twice a week.

There must have been more to her,
A whole life besides these scraps
Of confused information

Remembered by elderly
Kindergartners discussing
Her as their old memories.

Who was, then, Mrs. Christian,
The creature, not the stances?
Old men exchange blank glances.

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