The Interpreter

there was nothing special about that morning,
where fall was again turning to winter, where the last few leaves sat still
where they waited for the mid-afternoon wind to blow them away
and where the teachers, too, sat still, in their circle, patient for movement
for the autumn sunrise to break the broken glass.

and another parent would pass through this morning
assembly line ready for in and out, machine ready for her child to spin
and in the familiar glory of today, we would spin her with a special operator
she knew what we didn’t, knew how to make the tools—use them to sort products into characters and save the ones that would make the mommies smile.

mommy, she was late, of course she was
her factory head bowed with the sun visible above her head
“She was late for the brother’s conference, too.”
hence, we all nodded in unison, without surprise
placed her next to the one she would understand, hands out to the interpreter
please, on the count of three, start to spin the machine.

reading—“We have concerns. We love your daughter, but we have concerns.” spin
math—“We love your daughter, but we have concerns.” spin
and she spun our words like wet silk in tight threads, spit them out into characters
on top of each assessment, she spit broken glass
and it didn’t make mommy smile.

mommy, mommy, she tried, tried to gather the shards
rubbed the edges under her eyes
and cried red for the child she’d lost here today
left her high with a marked bag, left her child to spin in our machine.


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