‘There’s another one.’ Beth, tight with anticipation reached for the note; a little mystery was being played out in her classroom. A miniature teddy bear held the scroll of paper she now opened:
‘I am warm and cuddly
I am gentle too
Send this way your sweet smile
My love will be true’
A warm flush rose to her cheeks, ‘This is cute,’ she thought, ‘but if its one of the children, it’s getting out of hand.’
She was kneeling beneath the Poet tree, on a pile of cushions. Closing her eyes, Beth could sense the enchantment she had hoped the children would find beneath the tree, to discover the wonder of words and music of poetry, even in a simple verse such as this.
“You alright Miss?” one of the eager helpers startled her.
“Yes thank you Hannah,” Suddenly busy, Beth tidied her way back to her desk. Gazing at the note she wondered, ‘Who is sending them?’
She had found this and the other two verses, tied to the Poet Tree that stood in a corner of her room. It had taken most of the holidays to create; well she needed something to introduce poetry to earthy little seven year olds. The large papier-mâché trunk of the Poet tree sparkled white and silver; starting short, stumpy branches became long willowy stems of pearly white organza, which hung low enough for the children to pin their poems to. They were captivated.
With gratitude, she recalled how much of a complete disaster it would have been without Hugh’s dad. Leaving a trail of pearly glitter, Beth had struggled through the school gates with the tree, to set it up in her room.
A man on his way back to a trades van offered to help, carrying the tree to her room, only to find that it wouldn’t stand alone. Finally Beth declared, “It’s no good, I can’t risk propping it up. What if it falls on one of the children? It would flatten them”
He smiled at her,
“Look I have some shelves to sort out for the Principal, give me a while, I promise, when the kids arrive tomorrow the tree will be standing, trust me.”
He had looked into her eyes with an honesty that shocked her.
“I er… thank you Mr…"
“Morris, but please, call me Max…you er…you have my son Hugh this year.”
“Pleased to meet you Max, thank you,”
After a staff meeting, she found the tree standing firm and Max Morris no where to be seen. A thank you note was sent home and another, making mention of his Carpentry services, was placed in the school newsletter.
With his dad’s smile and grey-green eyes Hugh was a polite, almost sad little boy. ‘Little wonder,’ she thought when she read his record. His mother had died when he was just four years old, father had been sole parent ever since.
Watching Hugh and the other children make their way into the room Beth returned the verses to her desk. Later, at morning tea, she found her friend Heather in the library, and showed her the notes.
“Hmmm, very interesting Watson…which one came first?” Heather asked as she crouched on one of the tiny chairs. Beth pointed and Heather read aloud.
“Hair full of sunlight
Eyes of deepest blue
Smelly as a pink rose
I like you - guess who?”
She giggled, “Oh that’s lovely,” she continued reading the second,
“I am shy and lonely
Will you be my friend?
We could laugh and have fun
Make the sad times end.”
Heather raised an eyebrow.
“Well Sherlock?” Beth watched her friend’s face and thought she saw a dawning of some sort; a knowing smile tweaked the corners of her mouth.
“I don’t think it’s a child, the printing is too neat. I think you have a secret admirer of the male persuasion.”
“Okay, but who?”
Heather smiled, “Time will tell,”
After praying that she wasn’t being stalked by some maniac, Beth relaxed a little, watched and waited. A few days later the Poet Tree sprouted red roses and another verse.
“Birds sing in the spring time
Frogs sing in the rain
Crickets click on warm nights
All to love again”
This time, on the back, a phone number she recognised, and a message that read,
‘The next move is yours, I hope you’ll call.’
A memory of grey green eyes in an honest face told her all would be well, and she dialled the number.
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