Volume 29, Number 4

First Day of Kindergarten

I can’t wait to meet my son’s first
teacher. I’m bursting to tell her
all about my brilliant child.

Just last night, his eyes fixed
on an unobstructed moon, he said:
            Lightning makes a lot of noise.
            And thunder makes a lot of noise.
            But the moon is very quiet.

I scrambled to write it down, this pure
lyricism, one for the keepsake file,
and my maternal thoughts go
careening off to a starry future where
my son writes a shimmering poetry book
            The Moon Is Very Quiet

I can’t wait to tell the teacher
about this budding poet, tell her
how he reads me the headlines
from The New York Times,
not to brag, but she needs to know
he has his own library card, and
carries home stacks of books
that spill like joy from his little arms

And he can spell, even the really
difficult words, like neighbor, and elephant,
because his mind is a camera that takes
mental pictures of words.

And he can spin fantastic stories
that mash together Snow White,
the Power Rangers, Winnie the Pooh,
Brunhild from Wagner’s Ring Cycle,
Robert DeNiro and Martha Stewart, because
his imagination is a sprawling house
that welcomes all comers.

And I begin by asking his teacher
what they’ll read in school that year.

And she looks at me with blank eyes,
and tells me her focus will be
on developing fine motor skills.

And now I’m having second thoughts
about leaving my gifted son with her,
fearing she will prune and trim
his wild and blossoming mind.

And I wonder why the focus on fine
motor skills, and not storybooks,
or even the alphabet song.

And I drive away, turning on
my headlights at 9 in the morning
to cut through my deepening
gloom, and all I can think about
is the day when I’ll get the call
to tell me a man in a black
trench coat has opened fire
on the tiny chairs and desks,
and I wonder if my son
will be the one who crawls out
from under a body, finds the phone
in his fallen teacher’s purse and dials
911, using his fine motor skills.

—Catherine Marenghi