Paper Tulip

Thu, 08/15/2013 - 16:18 -- jc21


Not until I was 7 years old

Did one of my teachers

Finally realize

I couldn’t read,

Or at least not more

Than a few simple words,

Or figure out basic

Addition or subtraction


I was a child being left behind

In the public school system

Right as George W. Bush

Passed the act



Seemed to become my new middle name,

Always placed in the slow track

Reading and math groups.

I almost got held back in grade two

Until I agreed to go to Score tutoring,

Which turned out to be more of a

Babysitting service than



My parents did not raise me

Nannies held my hand

Across the street

And I always tossed my homework

Into the recycling bin at home

Because frustration & tears

Would overtake me

When I stared at these assignments,

Befuddled and alone


In second grade, on mother’s day

All the moms came to class,

We sang them a beautiful tune,

Gave them paper flowers

We made the day before and then

Each mother & child

Took a photo together

Outside in the grass


I was the only kid

That took a picture with

My teacher,

Mrs. Reyes.


I guess it made sense,

She was the one who finally noticed

I couldn’t read or spell my name

Properly anyway

And I was the sole kid

Whose mother didn’t come


My hands plopped the orange pink

Paper tulip

Into Mrs. Reyes’ hands,

Her eyes shifting down to mine

As she simultaneously took a knee

To look at me

She said, “but Jacqueline,

This flower is for your mom.

Don’t you think you should give it

To her?”

Teeth sinking into lip,

With no seconds of doubt

I return, “She would probably

Lose it anyway.”


On my eighth birthday

My father forgot

How old I was turning


I’ve had to grow up

And take care of myself

For so long,


Wasn’t a question.


Journals ran rampant with short stories,

Songs, and poems

At age 7

But I didn’t know it was poetry then,

Just a creative outlet

For a lost little girl

Revealing her to herself,

In honesty’s nesting grounds of language,

Trying to make sense

Of this bit of the world

She knew.


In retrospect I see,

My parents

Were always working

To be able to send me

To a University,

To fund my higher education

So I wouldn’t have to exhaust myself

Working full time through school

Like they did.


It’s funny how it can take so many years

To realize your parents’ intentions


So sure, I’ve got a funny family life,

And this isn’t even the half of it,

But who doesn’t?



Waters the seed of growth

Waiting within each of us


At least I have people to call


And I do know one thing,


They truly do love me.


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