georgia heard · poetry

A Thought + A Poem

Around Indiana, Kindergarten Round Up is in full swing.  This personally effects me since my red-headed flair of a five year old will be entering kindergarten next year.  She is so excited.  She’s unable to keep still just thinking about going to kindergarten.  I watch her pretend and imagine and dress up as a ninja-dentist-ballerina (her current career aspiration) and I’m in awe at the amazing way her brain works.  Then I read this poem by Georgia Heard and my eyes brim with tears.

Straight Line
By Georgia Heard

All the kindergarteners
walk to recess and back
in a perfectly straight line
no words between them.
They must stifle their small voices,
their laughter, they must
stop the little skip in their walk,
they must not dance or hop
or run or exclaim.
They must line up at the water fountain
straight, and in perfect form,
like the brick wall behind them.
One of their own given the job of informer — guard of quiet,
soldier of stillness.
If they talk
or make a sound
they will lose their stars.
Little soldiers marching to and from
their hair sweaty
from escaping dinosaurs
their hearts full of loving the world
and all they want to do
is shout it out
at the top of their lungs.
When they walk back to class
they must quietly
fold their pretends into pockets,
must dam the river of words,
ones they’re just learning,
new words that hold the power
to light the skies, and if they don’t
a star is taken away.
One star
by one star
until night grows dark and heavy
while they learn to think carefully
before skipping,
before making a wish.


3 thoughts on “A Thought + A Poem

  1. I’m Google searching for poems and came across this poem on your blog. Thank you for sharing it. I’m not familiar with your blog, so need to be careful commenting here, but I do often feel school can be a very artificial environment. People say ADHD is reaching epidemic proportions, but I wonder …


  2. Ruth,

    You always bring tears to my eyes, Darn You! There are many days that I look at my little first graders and think the same thing. When the cafeteria people yell at them for not having their napkin in the right square (I kid you not), or the music teacher takes away points for continuing to sing or dance when she has told them it is time to move on, or worse yet when their classroom teacher (that would be yours truly) tells the class there isn’t time today to hear everyone’s story.

    I just hope that most of the time they feel safe within my classroom walls to be themselves. It may help that in my heart I am 7 years old.

    Instead of closing the blinds at the first snowfall like many of the teachers in my building, we drop everything and run outside. Later we write descriptive words about the snow and hang them all over our classroom. Some may say, “what a great lesson”, but really I do it because I want to run outside in the first snow of the season as much as the kids do.


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