The hand will not do her bidding—not fasten a button
nor a necklace, or grasp a knife, and the first time
she dropped the yellow chalk this year was nothing,

only a bother to bend, retrieve, and place the broken
pieces on the dusty ledge near the fancy blue and green
chalk, and continue her talk on the failure of John

and Elizabeth Proctor’s marriage in The Crucible.
The second time she dropped the chalk, she felt
her balance go when she bent to pick it up.

She leaned toward the scattered shards, and thought
she heard someone say, Butterfingers. . . .  That day
the notes on the board were almost illegible, but she

read them as if they breathed the passion she felt.
Despite her lack of control or maybe because of it,
she let herself play with the idea of fashioning a mosaic

with the green, blue, and orange chalk to mix with
the yellow.  Soon, she gave up on her hands working,
but still trusted her legs till the day a book bag interfered

with her progress and down she went, as ungraceful
as Ethan Frome with a woman.  That night, her husband
kept the bruise from swelling and the ice felt good,

she thought, better than the classroom floor.
The next day, The Scarlet Letter awaited; Hester
and Arthur and Pearl could not, would not, be denied.

© Marie Kane

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