"Mrs. Tucker?" the teacher said, writing
that same name on the board under Nouns.
"Yes, you can use that. Mrs. Tucker names
a person: My mother. I'm Ms. Tucker."
I had heard those words two weeks before,
followed by an introduction to their teacher,
who, knowing more about me...by
reading my bio...than I knew about her,
figured that I, having taken courses in
black history, must be black.
But no! I met her twice
and had known the riveting news for just minutes,
when the principal's soft voice told the class,
"She's gone. . . . not coming back."
And those same boys and girls, who
only the week before were talking instead of
listening to the poems by Langston Hughes,
put down their heads. Several children...
almost a third of the class...looked at me through
salty tears. So when a girl asked to be excused,
I said, "Yes," wondering how
I would feel, if, in the fifth grade, Ms. Tucker
had left only a poet to ease my pain.
...for the students in Room 26