25 of 30. Remembering School

(1st Grade. Back Row, Dead Center)

If I were to sit in a room with no books,

and try to recount all

the readings and lectures—

the lint that stuck

from the 9 schools I attended,

and passages that

have stored themselves in me—

I would remember that spelling bee

in 5th grade.

The writing competition results

that told me I might have found something

to come back to when I got old

and tired of friends

who could speak back.

In flipping through the pink folds of my brain,

I would see Plato’s Cave crudely constructed,

of classrooms and cubicles,

and all of the faces I painted on the puppets that

looked so much like so many people I shared

lunch with.

I would see my first tattoo

sketched in Dr. Innes’ class,

and the face he made

when I offered to show him.

Benjamin Constant’s essay on liberty

would have a chapter all to itself,

and wandering through lectures would be

the story of Dr. Sina learning math

as a boy in Albania,

through equations he created

to win money at the pool hall.

Past De Toqueville’s

Democracy in America,

I’d find Nikki Giovanni,

ego tripping and


all over my brain.

I’d follow her trail of gold,

the strands of her hair,

to Egypt at Le Louvre

and Ntangou crying

over broken noses

and impossible


The memories would jump back and forth

between Mrs. Dean’s kindergarten naptimes,

John Taylor Gatto’s essay on public school,

and Professor Isabella’s discussion of Bukowski.

“The Sweetest Hour” was recess spent in the

woods with Vannessa, deciding how next to

run away,

and Parker’s “Telephone Call”

would not have collected much dust.

The Great Gatsby would be recalled first

from tenth grade

because of that t-shirt I designed to match the cover.

I can still see Daisy’s sequined tears,

glitter paint skyline,

splotchy purple dye job.

Propped up in the hallway

outside Ms. Ziegler’s 4th grade classroom

is where I’d find myself

and my first sign of protest:


If I were to sit in a room with no books,

I would still be able to read “Selecting a Reader”

and it might still make me blush.

Mr. Colclough’s astronaut suit and

full body enactment of the earth’s rotation

in the hallway of Taconic Hills High school

would not have become dim, and I could still

remember the surges of lightning

boxing my pyromaniac lab partner

behind the school after class.

There are papers, essays,

and books that I can’t recall,

but I remember all of the teachers

I drove mad with questions and note passings,

fistfights and costumes.

The memories would overflow my brain’s

file cabinet, drawers made of

old lunch boxes and backs of backpacks

coloured on—

ripped through by pens and pencils.

If I had to sit in a room with no books,

and remember all I’ve learned,

I’d write it down

and write it down,

until I had a brand new story to read.


About amyleighcutler

Writer, dancer, vagabond extraordinaire
This entry was posted in 30 in 30, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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