Departure Poem PAD April 4th

Au Revoir Mes Elèves

The ninth graders arrive to French class,

smiles stretched on rubber-banded teeth,

backpacks stiff and notebooks empty.

“Bonjour mes élèves,” I start the lesson

with greetings, introductions, and goodbyes––

opening a crevice in their brains, prying

and prodding to wedge in “J’aime les frites”

among texts, Snapchats, Instagram, and tests

for English, math, and science proficiency.

Each year, I lose some to art, to AP physics,

or custody moves. The others continue, add

vocabulary, learn songs, conjugate verbs,

and try brie, tartines, and chocolat chaud.

After four years, the fissure expands to a chasm,

the poetry of Victor Hugo and art of Monet

pushing against the walls with plus-que-parfait

and conditonnel passé tenses, cartoons, and film.

By June of their senior year, the crack

becomes a passage, a fjord through which

they steer a sturdy vessel, and I wave

a hankerchief from the shore, unsure

of their return, but sure of their navigation.

Kim King © 2015


About k2king

Poeming to save myself
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