Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Long Good-bye

My elementary school
was organized
with grades 2nd through 4th
on the main floor;
5th through 8th upstairs.
First grade tucked into the side wing.

Moving upstairs
was tough for me;
and I imagined,
it was tough
for my old teachers, too.
So every day,
during my fifth grade year,
I made the long pilgrimage...
from class to class,
after the bell.

"Good-bye, Mrs. Quillen," I said
to my 4th grade teacher.
She always looked surprised,
her eyes wide behind her glasses.
"Have a nice afternoon, Mrs. Carter,"
I called, lingering at her door,
hoping she might ask me
to help tidy the bookshelves
or organize the maps.

"How was your day?"
I asked Miss Davidson.
She was my dad's
2nd grade teacher, too;
and he told me
about the wooden paddle
named "Dr. Pepper"
that lived in her bottom desk drawer.
By the time I was in 2nd grade,
Miss Davidson was still teaching;
but Dr. Pepper had retired.

Finally, skipping a little,
(so I wouldn't miss her),
I made my way
down the long hall
to the first grade wing.
"Good-bye, Mrs. Shackleford,"
I said.
She drew me in
to a one-armed hug,
her heavy book bag
dangling from the opposite shoulder.

"Good-bye, Sweet Pea!" she said,
seeming to shrink each week
until the last day of fifth grade,
before summer break,
I realized I was eye to eye
with my first grade teacher.

In sixth grade,
I settled for waving
from the other side of the playground
or in passing
as we left lunch...
hanging on by the thinnest thread
to teachers who knew me.
I was learning to move on.


  1. Lori, this narrative poem sings of the development of a young learner who has her foot in two worlds. Moving on is where a 6th grader wants to be while still hanging on.

  2. I love this Lori! Love the image of you saying goodbye as you walk down the hall. Loved that first grade teacher who called you "Sweet Pea." I always feel sad when former students don't say hello!

  3. We want to move on and yet at the same time we don't want to. Great memories of transitioning.

  4. We want to move on and yet at the same time we don't want to. Great memories of transitioning.

  5. I so enjoyed reading about your long good-bye! Beautiful.

  6. What a great description of your long goodbye. How lucky you were to have teachers like that.