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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