December Pencils

Come September – the pudgy-legged nuns waddle down the crowded aisle
The desks pushed enough apart to discourage talking between the students
The space – however – does not to allow easy passage for the polyester penguins
The clever little wooden boxes are held open for the sisters of merciless wrath
Fresh scrubbed faces – barely concealing the terror – search the old rheumy eyes
Is there something missing – did my mother forget to get my Pink Pearl eraser
The No.2 pencil is as long and golden as the last Saturday in August
The green foil lettering – SARATOGA – glares up from the corner of the box
The oblong shape with the engraved No.2 reminds you it’s better than you
In turn each child scuffles to the gray Sanford pencil sharpener to sharpen a pencil

Come December – the old nuns are tired but the kids are waking up to snowy life
Frost on the window is a subtle reminder that things will be better – if only for a while
The classroom is a primitive museum of earnest expressions of controlled creativity
The little wooden boxes – smudged and creased – are a shade of their September selves
The rosy cheeked faces – barely able to hold their tongues – whisper thoughts of joy
Is she really going to assign a paper on capillary action to do over the break
The No.2 pencil is short and stubby – even the eraser is eroded like a snow cone in July
The green foil lettering – SARATO – is smudged and interrupted by nervous teeth marks
The oblong shape is long gone turned to shavings in the belly of the Sanford sharpener
The old nuns inform us the stubs are useless – we’ll have to get new pencils for January

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