a brief inventory
In pink report cards, Mrs. Carlson’s glowing remarks have trailed me like comet tails
for 40 years. At the onset of every move, I reunite with her bubbly cursive extolling
various virtues—a mastery of the weekly spelling test, a growing social competence,
an aptitude for math. I have an enthusiasm for learning - she writes -
that makes it a pleasure to teach. Now, decades from the shiny, cacophonous halls
of Wenonah Elementary, I can still slip myself into the hard plastic desk two rows
from Mrs. Carlson’s gaze, still hear the chirp of her morning announcements, still spot
that wide, uninhibited grin, still feel the soft, grey paper with the faint hash lines
cocooning my efforts, and the flourish of checkmarks beside every word I got right.
Did she know even then I’d still be here, tilting my head, listening for her footsteps?