On Being Poor

Standard

I was reading this novel

with my students today,

and this character

was talking about

what it’s like to be poor.

He talks about his sick dog

and how this dog

was his best friend

and how there was no other way

to deal with it

than a two cent bullet.

He says how

this is the worst part

of being poor,

and, right there,

in the middle of class,

I start to cry,

thinking of how so many of them

know exactly what this means,

how I know exactly what it means

to be this poor,

and how sad it is

that anyone must feel this way,

especially children,

those innocent minds,

all new to hurt and tragedy.

And then I wonder

if there is a teacher out there

who still wonders if I am okay,

if I am alive

and if I am still that tragic child

with dirt-smudged cheeks

and cold hands.

Do they know

this is what I think about

when I go to sleep in a house

that is better by far

than any of my childhood homes,

better than their childhood homes?

Do they know I dream of them

and ache for their pain?

No, they probably don’t,

but I do.

 

So I cried in class

when the dog died

because Arnold

and his family

didn’t have enough money

to take him to the vet.

I stopped class

and apologized

and one student got up

and hugged me

and we kept reading.

Advertisements

Memories Made of Ink and Skin

Standard

 

Photo Credit: birdtattoodesigns.com

Photo Credit: birdtattoodesigns.com

Heated. That’s what my dad was when I came home with my first tattoo.  The ironic thing was that my step-mom had not only taken me to get the tiny turtle permanently emblazoned onto my ankle, but she had also set up the appointment and paid for it too.  To this day, I look at that small Celtic-style turtle and have fond memories of the buzzing pain that marked it into my skin as well as the image of my friend, Richard, and I drawing it during Speech 101 during my freshmen year of college.

Since that first tattoo, I have ventured three more times into that chair to feel that annoying, bee stinging feeling that presses, needles, a rainbow of ink under my skin.  I guess I like nature because all of my tattoos are reminiscent of animals or the outdoors.  I have also drawn every one of my tattoos which is strange since I don’t consider myself an artist of any kind.

My next tattoo was a tiny flower that found a home on the top of my foot.  My best friend, Jessica, and I sat for hours drawing pictures of figures, images that we might consider inking on our bodies.  We ended up with a flower I drew that contained our initials.  People say it looks like a golf flag with its tiny leaf sticking off the side, but I just think of a crazy night with my friend and the excitement of imagining a “friends forever” scenario.

I have a butterfly on my back between my shoulder blades.  It’s not a traditional butterfly–more like a tribal/Celtic style.  It’s purple and I remember going back to complain that the artist hadn’t added enough color.  He added more a week later, and I can say that it hurt more the second time. I can’t see it, so sometimes I forget it exists, that is until one of my students notices it and says some smart ass remark.  Teenagers for you.  Since most of my students have tattoos, you would think it wouldn’t be such a big deal, but it is.

My last tattoo is a memorial, but not to someone who has died or to someone who has left me.  I have ocean waves in the center of the sun inked on my calf.  My first year of teaching was at a temporary position on the coast.  I’ve never wanted to live anywhere but near the ocean, so it felt like kismet to find my first job and house only a few miles from the crashing waves.  Sadly, I only spent one year teaching those fantastic kids, but I wanted to remember them, to remember the lessons I learned during that year and with those students.  One of my favorite students said to me on the last day, “Don’t cry. You shall be remembered.” This was what I wanted–for my students to not just remember me but to remember the impact I had on their lives, to remember that they are special and unique and powerful.  Those last four words surround my sun–You shall be remembered.

This winter, I will tattoo three little birds on my shoulder.  They will be flying away–flying into the sky of whatever comes their way.

 

Written in response to the Daily Prompt–Tattoo