The poet Gabriela Mistral of Chile,
who was also a teacher of children, wrote:
Speech is our second possession, after the soul—
and perhaps we have no other possession in this world.
We have to ask ourselves, did she mean it?
And was she right?
Does so much really depend on those ABCs,
written or spoken?
After Hurricane Katrina,
I asked a boy in a shelter
whose every possession was in a cardboard box
beneath an unmade cot
if he’d like to write a poem.
He wrote the story of his family’s escape
five pages long.
A boy in a classroom,
wanting to be a master,
teaches himself to tie
the shoelace of his poem.
Why so much patience?
Another boy dares more in a brief poem
than most adult poets I’ve ever read.
What was he seeking?
What did he find?
How many teachers, listening
to students’ poems say to me:
I have to rethink now who they are.
© The Estate of Sandford Lyne