Written by M.J.C
The bird was a robin. It was sitting in the tree just outside the classroom. The teacher was quiet, having given instructions to take the remaining thirty minutes of class to construct our poem.
Poetry held no interest. The teacher droned on and on about the art of poetry and the obvious and sublime messages within the greatest poems. How the words were interconnected and meanings were known, unknown, and debated and discussed by scholars and the general public.
It wasn’t interesting. At all.
The bird was gone now. The day dragged on. The tree was colorful with the sky peaking in through the leaves. The end of spring was here and summer was saying hello more frequently now.
Looking around the class, students were writing, thinking, and looking focused. Some were twisting pencils; others rocking; and still others moving their feet and knees up and down, up and down very quickly, as teens tend to do when nervous or unsure.
Ten minutes remaining and I’d be free to sail away from this class forever. Or at least until tomorrow, Thursday.
I looked at my knee which wasn’t moving. My feet planted on the classroom floor and not moving. There was too much gap from the top of my socks to the bottom of my pants.
There were still fifteen minutes left. Hopefully the bird would return.
The bird never returned.
After a couple of weeks studying poetry the class would finally be done and I’d never have to think of how words flow in verse, sound, meaning, and hidden meaning. So close to being done.
Five minutes and I looked at the teacher. The teacher looked back.
Finally the teacher said: Two minutes. Please finish your poems now.
I started my poem.
The bell rung and I put my pencil down. I’d finished the poem.
Epilogue: The teacher read the poems the following day. All poems were read except mine. I was relieved. And then, the teacher said:
Here is the final poem, my favorite:
The Sky is Blue
The Ocean is Blue
Why are my Socks Purple
The class laughed. The teacher smiled. I didn’t move.
Then the comment from the teacher: This is my favorite poem of all-time from all my classes. What was your inspiration, the teacher asked:
I thought of the sky between the tree where the bird rested. I thought of sailing away from class, the city, the country. And I thought of my socks and the too-far gap between them and my pants the previous day. So I said:
The bell to end class; I just wanted to leave.
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I’m a teacher. We like brevity. We like thought. We like creativity. We like the critical. That’s why that poem worked. You asked a question after reflecting on two things most people have seen: the sky and the ocean. It was noted by a commentator on December 30 that nearly half of the Wisconsin Badgers football team, upon arriving in Miami for the Orange Bowl (seems a stretch for this poem, right?) — had never seen the ocean before. Any ocean. For all they knew, blue oceans were a myth. The end.