By rote, by ritual,

by sheer and boring repetition—
this is the way we learned our numbers,
letters: morning drills, multiplication

tables; and in the afternoons the parsing
of sentences and their parts. Long, chalked-out
trees of subjects, verbs, and their modifiers

growing sideways, across the blue-green
blackboard. Before the last bell rang
our release, a half hour of cursive

writing: a series of tight loops and coils
leaning right then left; then spelling
and vocabulary practice. And finally,

reading Mercator maps pulled down like color-
blocked shades across the board. I liked
how the teacher let us come close to inspect

the shapes of continents and islands
marked with latitudes and meridians;
how we measured the width of Greenland

or the Indian Ocean with our hands,
before returning to our seats to correct
our pencil drawings— How wonderful

to know that even as sun or rain beat on
the classroom windows, as surely as our erasers
rubbed spots on the paper thin, a gold-flecked

sandstorm whirled in the desert; and somewhere,
the first snow of the season had already
stencilled the landscape in white.

Luisa A. Igloria
10 29 2011

In response to an entry from The Morning Porch.

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