Just a Third Grader
During the war, I wanted to be a fighter pilot,
but I would probably have crashed and be captured
and tortured. All I could do was pull my wagon
around from house to house, collecting newspapers
for the newspaper drive, and in a basement room
at school, Janitor Wesley weighed my papers, gave me
a slip of paper with my name, date, and weight—
then tied my papers into bundles and neatly stacked
them against the wall. I kept his notes at home.
Paper-clipped, in a box in my chest under my bed.
I liked to take them out and thumb through them.
Each day the pile of papers at school climbed higher
up the wall. Then one day a delivery door
opened and light poured in. The truck backed up
to the door and a guy got out and threw
the bundles of papers in the truck,
closed the door and drove off. The room
was so empty it felt like a torture room.
Peter Sears, poet laureate emeritus, offered this poem as a prompt for the issue. For more information about him, click on Poet Laureate Prompts in the menu.