Collateral Lessons

by Dixon Hearne

The boy who picks a festered splotch
That hides his soul, veils his life,
The hefty girl overflowing a sixth-grade desk
Whose foot will never fit Cinderella’s slipper,
The trembling voice of a reluctant reader
Patched pockets and knees
Inviting insult, teasing, hurting,
Brown and crooked teeth
Made worse by smiling
The empty seat of a girl
With nitted hair and
Tell-tale stains of an accident,
The four-eyed child in the front row,
The unkempt boy in dirt-brown shirt,
The sack-plain faces that fill the room—
Weeds among rare flowers,
All the same –

All the pain.


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