The history teacher is young, energetic.
Maybe 15 kids, mostly
Boys don’t notice as I come through the door.
She has to attend an IEP meeting.
Just show the film. They know
what to do.
What can we do? I think.
One of the boys gets up and pushes
Most do not watch the images of the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
And the interviews with elderly survivors.
Their drawings, that I’ve seen in that book Unforgettable Fire.
Two girls near the TV sit with hands on chin.
Girl farther away flirts with her tablemates.
Toward the end, the boys consult the two
girls about what to write on their worksheets. Nerdy
girls basking in the brief attention of the cool
They are numb I think. It’s just another
cartoon or video game.
Horror in Honduras perhaps lived and escaped from.
Here in the US surrounded by gangs, shootings, hunger,
tired sad mothers especially.
In Spanish Jonathan’s mother says, I leave at five and don’t get home until seven I don’t know what they do.
She has four
boys. Jonathan is not doing his homework,
he looks doggedly at the floor, silent
as the teachers talk about him. His mother, full of hope at his birth, must have thought carefully about choosing the name Jonathan. The system chugs on trying to
help so many kids trying to get to the diploma everyone says
will make things better.
some 20 years ago I remember showing Schindler’s List to freshmen
I think I was in the back, crying a little, I always do in that movie.
The class was silent, that rare precious dead silence of complete attention.
Pedro, who was a real pain in the ass all year, a tweaker said his mates, who didn’t like
him either, Pedro cheered when the Nazi pulled out a revolver and shot a woman.
There was a collective gasp.
I stopped the VCR. Out! I bellowed.
I told Al, the assistant principal, Pedro can’t come back to my class.
You can’t really do that he said, although I understand.
There was a week of school left, including finals.
I’ll give him a C and he can just go somewhere else.
There are all kinds of reasons kids get passing grades.
In retrospect, Pedro probably had a story.
He was Salvadoran.