Fourth grade was an important year. No settling into a new school for the first year or two. My whole family was now a part of a beautiful community Full of teachers with shining smiles and students tucked Into little uniforms, green ties pulled tight, and skirts freshly ironed. Fourth grade was a special year, When fall rolled around, taking with it the sluggish humidity And sour afternoons of summer. It brought crisp motivation Sprinkled in with the cold wind that led tiny hands to upper arms. We were going to learn a poem. It felt special. They trusted us enough to recite it to parents. When the Frost is on the Punkin. You had to say it like that. Not “pumpkin.”Punkin, Like a woman who noticed you gazing around her store On the road trip with your family, “Can I help you dear?” Dialect was key. Put your hands behind your back And don’t stand on your tippy-toes. Lift your chin up. Eye contact. For a 9-year old, I was pretty good at it. Saturday School. Twice a year. Half a day. The autumn one Was always the best. Uniform, light sweater Pulled over to protect you from the chill. Wind rustling your hair, forcing the goosebumps Up your arm. Pumpkin cider doughnuts in the morning, A smile from the principal. The smell of the leaves On the ground, the cold pinching your nose and turning it red. Hoping it wouldn’t be stuffed up as you stood With your pumpkin and let your brain rattle away The words you had spent weeks memorizing, And could still remember six years from then. A little shake. A little shiver. The promise of carving pumpkins when we got home. Saying the words. Don’t stumble. I didn’t. A big smile. A little wave. I miss those October Saturdays.
When they see me, Will it be my intelligence Or the color of my skin? The sheer thought that My life could end before It begins scares me, Making me