Just as two 13-year-old girls bounded up with a Welcome!
sign, so happy I would be reading poetry (and interrupting
Language Arts), the bell rang: Fire drill.
Students walked outside in an orderly fashion
arranged themselves in straight lines,
waited for the teacher to tell them it was safe.
They squirmed in conformity
while I flipped through a mess of papers
for the perfect poem.
When it was determined that all was well,
we returned to air-conditioning. Me, sweating
with fear to read a poem to middle schoolers.
Obviously, I read the wrong one
one that ran zigzag through
expectations for proper composition.
Sensing an emergency,
the teacher thanked me for coming
and ushered me out before the next bell rang.
The poem was Ted Kooser’s “Selecting a Reader.”