Poetry and Poetics
from a photograph by Tyler Hicks
Like something a child might construct
of twigs and river clay, this school’s
a mud-plastered hut, open on all sides,
its beams the trunks of fresh-stripped trees.
The teacher holds an eraser behind him,
bends to the slab of tilted blackboard,
talking and scribbling, watched by children
of all ages. He’s placed the littlest ones
close by on a low bench, has also
brought close—for good reasons—a claque
of ten-year-old boys who look ready to burst.
At the back, four girls hunch together.
Their yellow, orange, green and brown
could make one untorn dress among them.
Everywhere there is sunlight—patterning
the blackboard’s dust and streaks,
the teacher’s jacket, the knobby spine
of the most ragged pupil. Outside,
along the gaps that make the windows,
a row of small heads, trying to see in.
© by Susan Donnelly
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