Carlos Has a Question
Everything is fine this morning.
Everything is moving on schedule in
this classroom of third-graders, all
thirty-five children segueing smoothly
between language arts and math,
books taken out and put back in desks,
lessons delivered, tasks completed.
There’s still science, and social studies
and art and P.E. and---
here comes the principal, on a surprise visit to our classroom.
But it’s okay!
We are getting things done!
Now, Carlos has a question.
Carlos often has a question.
His hand is aloft like a banner, a flag
indicating his citizenship in the world
of the classroom, signifying his right to know
any multitude of things, such as
what time it is (despite the clock on the wall),
if he can go to the bathroom (there’s a hall pass),
or perhaps to tell on Maribel, who,
according to Carlos, likes to steal his eraser,
though his eraser is often on the floor.
Carlos can hold his hand up all day. Sometimes,
he forgets his hand is up, lets it hang in the air
saving him the trouble of putting it down and back up again.
I could pretend in this moment not to see
his waving hand, which would be slightly cruel,
and also an impossibility, as he stands now,
swinging his whole arm back and forth with urgency,
signaling a pressing inquiry
needing Immediate Attention.
I sigh. Yes, Carlos? I say.
Teacher, Carlos asks,
Why does the sky change colors when the sun sets?
We are now off schedule.
by Adrienne Pilon
Adrienne Pilon has taught everything from kindergarten to post-grad teaching candidates and loves it all. Recent and forthcoming work can be found in Oddball Magazine, Blanket Sea Journal, Gnashing Teeth, BoomerLitMag and elsewhere. She lives in North Carolina.