Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Goodbye, Angel.

one of my most-improved students is leaving us, due to an unfortunate incident in which he participated today. i will miss him very much. i've come to realize how hard it is going to be for me to lose students, how i can't take it personally and have to hope that they will find another teacher willing to bet on them wherever they find themselves.

For J. Angel

I watched your eyes grow wide
with hurt and anger quarreling
in the deep vortex of your pupils.
Red rising to your face.
I don’t know what he said.
I’m not sure which word broke
the calm countenance you’ve
been wearing.

I remember first seeing you.
Large and looming, your first
piece of writing blowing my
mind with its blunt force honesty.
Peeling your life open,
we've found a sensitive soul
who has lived in the house
of anger for too long.

Today, you came in after lunch.
Told me what happened
with your girl.
You called me over,
asked for my advice and I
pushed back the beginning
of class so that we could talk.
Told you to take a breath, let her be.
Sometimes space is all you need.

You left us at the end of the hour.
We had written letters thanking
Sankofa drums and dance
for coming to our school.
Looking back to know ourselves
when we move forward.
We took a practice test
for the Terra Nova,
which will determine if you pass
this year.
You got a 90%.

After she held you down,
after we dragged the other kid away,
his mom came to pick him up.
I found you in the hall,
asked if you were alright.
noted the cuts on your fingers,
the tape around your knuckles,
you told me you were sad
that I had to witness the fight
and I told you to take care.

I will have trouble sleeping tonight,
knowing that today might be the end.
But I believe in you, past
This incident.
Toward what you’ll become.


God, it's hard to love them and lose them.



Ms. History Teacher said...

Aw honey I am so sorry to hear about this... I know he was one of your favorites. Your poem is beautiful. Do you know what school he's going to end up at?


Julianne said...

This is beautiful. And this is what I fear most as I enter the teaching profession. I have a wonderful but dangerous habit of falling hard for people, and relationships are what hold me together, are what I put my passion into most. So I know that I will get close to may students. And I know that not every story with my students will have a happy ending. But there is no way to brace yourself and I still believe it is worth it to fall for them and love them dearly. I, too, best express myself in writing, and reading your poem reminded me that I when I do have my heart broken in the classroom, I can begin to cope through writing. This is one of the reasons I want to teach English, so that students can have this tool of self expression for themselves, to get them through the rough parts of life. I appreciate your raw honesty. And I hope that this student knows how loved and special they are.