Esmeralda did not relish the doing of the homework.
She did, however, relish the ceasing of the badgering. And she came to appreciate how the badgering would cease upon the completing of the homework. But the appreciating of the doing of the homework? No.
Nor the getting of the smarter. What was to relish? She didn’t feel smarter. Did not feel like a different Emmie. But the ceasing of the badgering (as well as the ceasing of the “I’m very disappointed in you, Emmie-ing;” and the “sitting right there until it is finished, Emmie-ing”) she relished.
This homework assignment jabbed more needles into her rising balloon of swing-setting, hamstering, play with Lucy-ing, and laughtering than previous homework assignments.
She had to write a poem.
“I need to clean out Hamlet’s cage. You said I have to,” she said to her mom.
“Yes…after you do your homework.”
“Oops! I didn’t take out the recycling.”
“After you do your homework.”
“I left off the toothpaste cap.”
“I didn’t practice my flute. You said, no matter what…”
“Esmeralda. Do not get down from that table.”
A poem. Why would I write a poem, she thought. What good is a poem? What will I do with it once it is here? Give it to Ms. Plover is what. Why doesn’t she write one herself and make us both happy?
But then there was the badgering, and the stink-eyed, “do not get down from the table-ing.”
This poem, thought Emmie, for not yet being born, is sure throwing a loud tantrum.
Earlier that day Ms. Plover read Emmie’s class a poem about a red wheel barrow. Then they listened to a man recite a poem about a gingham dog on the CD player while they read along from their books. Then Ms. Plover showed them how to write a poem.
Emmie was to take a word, think up a bunch of other words that had nothing to do with that word and then write, “that’s what this word means.”
Lucy wrote, “My cat, Summer, leaps from window to dresser, like June to September.”
Ms. Plover’s voice performed a grand jeté in celebration of Lucy’s nimble pencil.
“My pencil is not ballet-ing,” said Emmie when Ms. Plover looked at her empty paper.
“Why not a poem about laughing…or talking without stopping? Something that you are, Emmie.”
Laughter, thought Emmie, I’m certainly not that, sitting at this table. Hmmm…what if I write,
“Laughter is not sitting at this table.”
Is that a poem?
She concluded: No. Because it made sense.
Emmie thought of how, whenever she laughed, she made Lucy laugh. It was as if she was giving her laughter to Lucy, like it was a piece of chocolate. The pencil began dancing:
I am a piece of laughter.
My friend is a piece of laughter.
Every friend is a piece of laughter.
I be a piece of laughter with my friends.
My hamster’s a piece of laughter.
She thought about Lucy and the nickname she gave her: Tu-tu. That was because she loved taking ballet lessons. But Emmie said, “it also means you’re too, too much. Like, cool.” Emmie smiled; she could now finish the poem.
I like to kid people.
Kid people is the same spelling for the other kind of kid.
Do you like to kid? (answer) _________.
I do like to kid.
I am talking about the kid that I am.
Emmie’s mom had been reading over her shoulder. She kissed the crown of Emmie’s dark brown head.
“Can I get down from the table, now?”
“Of course. But Em, what are those?”
“Ms. Plover said we had to lustrate it.”
“Oh. Are those pieces of laughter?”
“No. Those are trees and those are clouds.”
“Oh. Why did you draw clouds and trees?”
“Because I don’t know how to draw laughter.”
Brian Wapole ©2012
Brian started telling stories to himself when he was five years old and is pleased to be sharing the experience with a wider audience. His first novel, The Feast of the Moon, is now available in paperback and as an e-book.