Elementary

One of us buffs the schoolroom floor 
with half a coconut husk. Another leans
over the second floor railing to clap
two blackboard erasers together.  
For a moment, trapped chalkdust 
looks like powdered sugar falling. 
The mothers who've waited on concrete 
benches by the entrance are packing up 
their crochet hooks and threads, bits 
of exchanged stories. The lone janitor 
hauls water in a large plastic pail; 
when he goes down the row 
of toilet stalls, we hear 
a sluggish chorus of flushing. 
At the end of the year, we sand-
paper the edges of our books
and give them a fresh Manila 
paper covering; the next class
will use them. Perhaps one of them 
will see the penciled answer to 
a chapter question or math problem 
that our dutiful erasing overlooked.

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