Memory is Always Cursive

After recess we sat in rows under dim light,
    bent over desks, scratching loops across
"Coupon Bond"--what we called unlined paper,
    drawing paper, printer paper. Pink
eraser-capped pencils were Mongol No. 2.
    Following the letters drawn on the blackboard:
G with its upward sweep into one tiny ear then another,
    H like two twigs tied with an artful loop of twine.
I still remember the smell of hallways and bathrooms
    just scrubbed with dirty water and Pine-Sol;
kelp-like strands of vague homeroom projects
    lined up on the windowsills to dry,
macramé braids wilting on the counter. But I have
    no nostalgia for the ways in which
only the beautiful ones among us got gold stars, got
    picked "star dancer" or president. The
quiet ones, invariably forgotten, were those
    reading pocketbooks under their desks,
slipping jokes and puns from hand to hand.
    Telling of this time from the future, they
understand everything was practice for finding
    value in the overlooked. For instance, unorthodox
wainscoting versus plain seats of iron and wood,
    xyloid but without scrolls or flourishes. Or
yarrow nodding in thin grass by the trash bins; flies
    zapping, heady from the smell of hidden sugars.

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