“I might have insta­mat­ic flu,” claimed the young girl as her moth­er confirm her in in ~ the doctor’s office.

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“Let’s hope not,” she moth­er replied.

Insta­mat­ic flu. Instamatic…flu….

The indigenous bounced approximately in myhead.

“My mouth is wet, my neck is dry…” the girl claimed in half-heart­ed sing-songy voice as they take it achair in the wait­ingroom.

Her moth­er dropped akiss onto her daughter’s fore­head in that way moth­ers execute to inspect forfever.

“Are friend going remote in your right eye?” she asked. The lit­tle girl gig­gled softly.

Ah! correctly! “Sick” native Shel Silverstein’s Where the Side­walk Ends. Apoem about Lit­tle Peg­gy Ann McK­ay, who could not walk to school (today) for all of the mal­adies she suf­fered — a gash, arash and also pur­ple bumps…her i know well hurt as soon as she relocated her chin and also her bel­ly but­ton to be cav­ing in…her sleep was cold, her toes to be numb, she had asliv­er in herthumb….

I confirm myself in and took aseat direct­ly throughout from the moth­er-daugh­ter pair. Istud­ied castle sur­rep­ti­tious­ly over my mag­a­zine. The girl leaned on she Mom. In spite of her sense of humor, she obvi­ous­ly didn’t feel well. The was her moth­er Iwas inter­est­ed in, how­ev­er. She to be per­haps the ideal age. Isearched she face, look­ing for alit­tle girl Imight have actually known once upon atime….

She smiled tight­ly in ~ me in that means that said, “What room you look­ing at?” Iwent back to mine mag­a­zine. Noth­ing around her looked famil­iar. The would’ve to be reas­sur­ing had actually she to be Terese or Bel­la or Jazmine…. It would certainly be com­fort­ing to recognize she’d made it come adult­hood, had adaugh­ter once she to be close come thir­ty and also adoctor’s office she could take that daugh­ter to as soon as she to be sick. It’d it is in nice to recognize they had actually lit­tle moth­er-daugh­ter jokes about asil­ly poem. The would’ve made mine day, actually.

Twen­ty years back Iworked in an after­school pro­gram for children who had actually lit­tle poet­ry in their lives — metaphor­i­cal­ly or lit­er­al­ly. Their resides in and out of college were filled through “issues,” dra­ma they no choose, and also “chal­lenges” the made sea­soned teach­ersweep.

Sto­ry time was hard. Every­thing to be hard. Iread come them while castle ate their snack. It to be the only time they to be qui­et — they were constantly hun­gry. They had favorite books, yet Ican’t remem­ber the titles any more. Yet Ido remem­ber the Shel Sil­ver­stein poems. Castle glo­ried in the rhythms and also loved the size of his longer poems. Castle “per­formed” them — spo­ken word in agroup — when us were the end and about and you can tell the they felt favor they’d accom­plished some­thing after castle rat­tled off along sto­ried city filled with huge words and sil­ly rhymes.

We’d discover acou­plet or for this reason aday, patient­ly mem­o­riz­ing our way through “the two-page poems,” together they dubbed them. They adored “Sick,” with its mar­velous hoax at the end about it being Sat­ur­day. They delighted in “Sarah Cyn­thia Sylvia Stout would Not take The garbage Out,” even as they tried come out­do every oth­er through tall story (I hope, however prob­a­bly no in part cas­es) of the heaps that trash in and also around theirhomes.

We learned “The Crocodile’s Toothache” in document time — tech­ni­cal­ly aone-page poem, but the illus­tra­tion ~ above the fac­ing page made the wor­thy that excep­tion. They took pleasure in the short­er poems, too, but they didn’t want to learn them. Simply read lock occasionally.

We whis­pered poems when wait­ing out­side the bath­rooms, we jumped rope come them on the play­ground, us shout­ed them out in the park because that agroup that peo­ple that slept in the park. Build­ing staff, police, bus dri­vers, old peo­ple, drunk peo­ple, and lit­tle babies lis­tened to our recita­tions. Those children weren’t applaud­ed for lot in your lives, but their abil­i­ty come recite apoem en masse to be an impres­sive feat and they were cel­e­brat­ed because that it every­where wewent.

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I didn’t understand oth­er poets for kids then. I’d it is in so much an ext pre­pared now — we’d perform Langston Hugh­es, Jack Pre­lut­sky, Joyce Sid­man, Jon Sci­esz­ka, Mar­i­lyn Singer, Ken Nes­bitt, Lau­ra Pur­die Salas, Gwen­dolyn Brooks, Alma FlorAda…

I won­der how many poems they could’ve mem­o­rized? Iwon­der if they tho remem­ber any of the ones us did? would certainly they rec­og­nize the indigenous insta­mat­ic flu if castle over­heard it at the doctor’s office? If so, Ihope it provides themsmile.