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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Memory (07/10/08)

TITLE: Forgotten
By Leigh MacKelvey


Neat columns of studentsís names.
Checks or zeros marked against them.
Homework in. Check
No homework. Zero.
He slides by my desk. Late.

Homework? My head nods at his book-bag.
Eyes shift downward. He tells me he forgot it at home.
What about the note?
He says he donít Ďmember no note.
Iíll have to call home, then.

I pursue The Cell Phone somewhere in my purse.
Find it , flip it open.
The classroom is sucked in by gasps of students.
The Cell Phone inspires the fear of God.

A crusty voice answers.
She ainít here, I be his grandmother.
I come over mornings to bring the children
a Tasty-Kake for their breakfast.

Found him huddled in the closet.
With his sister. Shivered all night, they sez.
No electricity. No heat. No food.
Mom forgot to pay the bills, the boy tells me.
Huh? Forgot nothing.

She remembered to feed her veins last night.
Near overdose. Took her in an ambulance.
The kids watched her go, they sez.

What? His father?
That no-good man beat the be-jesuz
outa this family. He in jail.
Is there a problem at school?
Iíll come up there and whip that boyís butt.

No problem. Actually, itís slipped my mind why I called.
Sorry to bother you. I snapped the phone shut.
Look at him. Arms sprawl across his desk top.
Head in between them. A sliver of drool pools in the corner of his mouth.
He sleeps a safe sleep.

I put a check by his name.
Push the grade-book into the middle
of one of the tidy messes on my desk.
I canít recollect that heís ever forgotten
any of his homework at home.

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This article has been read 858 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sheri Gordon07/17/08
This brought huge tears to my eyes, and gave me goosebumps. (I really needed to read this right now as I wallow in my self-pity.) I'm usually not a fan of free-verse--I often don't "get it"--but this is incredible. Excellent job with the topic.
Betsy Markman07/17/08
Well written. It's hard for me to comprehend that so many children lives lives of such desperation.
Jan Ackerson 07/18/08
This is powerful, rich, deep. I've had students like this, although by the time they reach me, the damage is almost always irreparable.

Excellent job with the voice of the grandmother, and of the teacher. Heartbreaking and excellently written.
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/18/08
Your very well written story brings back such memories of moments when my strictness as a teacher was suddenly modified by a wake-up call of understanding.
Steve Uppendahl07/19/08
From a teacher: simply outstanding, and sadly, very realistic and true for too many. Very well done.
Jason Swiney07/19/08
Great take on the topic and what a true, but sad, message. It is sad that educators nationwide can relate to this (I am in Education too). School is too often the only safe haven for a child. If we knew what all the students in our classrooms endured, we probably couldn't teach, we'd just counsel them, hug them, and beat up the bad people for them. This obviously struck a nerve, good writing!
Joanne Sher 07/19/08
Oooh wow - very powerful. I ache for children like this, and praise the Lord for teachers who have compassion. Very moving.
Dee Yoder 07/19/08
Oh, heartbreaking. I know I had students in my classrooms like this...sometimes, it hurts too much to know what is happening to them at home. That ol' Satan...such a liar and soul-stealer. Thank the Good Lord that He offers a way out-even for the students like this one. Powerful voice and message.
Dee Yoder 07/19/08
Got so caught up in the message that I forgot to comment on your writing; masterful and awesome-written with the creative power of the Holy Spirit in your hand.
Seema Bagai 07/20/08
Heartbreaking and realistic. A few former students came to mind as I read this poem. Well-written.
Melanie Kerr 07/20/08
That was awesome! Your choice of words, the whole sorry narrative. Brilliant writing.
Chely Roach07/20/08
Absolutely incredible...awesome.
Catrina Bradley 07/20/08
This is just plain good. You subtly sucked me into this heartbreaking tale - and by the end made me feel maybe a bit of what this teacher must face each day. Excellent.
Joanney Uthe07/20/08
I read this earlier but was so struck by it that I didn't know what to say, so I sent a link to all the teachers in my email address book.

This really touched me. Thanks for writing it.
Lyn Churchyard07/21/08
It's hard to believe that so many children live lives of such misery. So well written.

Betty Castleberry07/21/08
Whoa, this is powerful stuff. You did a great job.
Loren T. Lowery07/22/08
Oh if there were only more people with empathy like this teacher, what a far better world this would be.
Wonderfully written, handled masterfully by an author with a poet's heart
Glynis Becker07/23/08
Perfect rhythm and what a telling story. Fabulous job!
Mariane Holbrook 07/23/08
There aren't enough superlatives to comment on this piece. It truly is remarkable! Wow!