Poem In Which I am Late for School
My seventy-one-year-old granddaddy and I
hop and skip all the way to school.
I am so happy with him towering above me.
What heaven to hop and skip to school.
His baldhead hides under his South Dakota fur cap—
the flaps tied tight under his whiskery chin.
He holds my small mittened hand
in his strong black leather glove.
Bright cold sun pierces the day.
He is old and slow.
I dart ahead to chase grackles
and come back for him.
We talk, chew dried grass stalks
We don’t step on any cracks.
A block from school we hear the bell ring.
Mrs. Starling is cross.
For punishment she says
I need to stay ten minutes after school.
I hate dumb Dick and Jane.
My favorites are my Betsy, Tacy and Tib.
After school the other children laugh.
Kids twist their scarves around their necks
and pull up their sleeves to put on their mittens.
On the scratched wood of the desktop
my folded hands shake with fury.
I look down at my pilled and frayed sweater.
The waist of my plaid skirt digs into my belly.
My teacher is no one.
Schoolbooks are awful.
Those children don’t matter.
The radiator spits and clanks.
Its hot dry air sticks in my throat.
I stare at the smudged grey blackboard
and taste chalk dust.
There’s nothing to be done for it.
The slow clock ticks slower.
I know tomorrow we will be late again.
When I Look Down at You From the Moon
and see your small face, the Dixie cup
of water in your hand, and the spotted
dog putting his paws on your knees—
I recognize you instantly although
the rest of my view is obscured by
tornados, billows of dust, leaves,
and rainclouds shaped like torpedoes.
And through all this—there you are—
small as a poppy seed. But I know it’s you!
I can even see your flip-flops, your crooked
smile, and the freckle above your left eye.
Dale Champlin is an Oregon poet with an MFA in fine art. She is the editor of
Verseweavers. Dale has poems published in The Opiate, Visions International,
Pif, and elsewhere. In 2019 She published her first collection The Barbie
Diaries. Two collections, Isadora and Callie Comes of Age are forthcoming.