Substitute Teacher

Thursday, March 26, 2020

 I refuse to pretend the classroom

my daughter's teacher sent a video of this evening
is truly empty.

Every table had something stacked on top - 
six stools, four green plastic adirondack chairs,
six baby blue pleather ottomans and their pals,
the floor cushions, and six small chairs - 
turned upside down and huddled together
as if the floor below was lava.

The books on the shelves kept their stories.
The puzzles on the shelf in the corner were
perfectly lined up, sighing in relief at 
finally having all their pieces home.
The organizer holding all the name tags for the children
proudly displayed a class full of absentees.

"They sent us all home," her teacher said.
The laundry basket on her desk bearing manila file folders
and her signature red purse made the transition final.

I hate what has arrived in the wake of loss.
I am not ready for a gift.
I do not like this substitute teacher
named Grief.

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