The Bashful One
by Barbara Ann Smith

She stands towering over me.
Her eyes search fearful ones.
My body stiffens:
I scrunch down in the desk chair,
I'm worried,
will I pronounce my words correct?
If I stutter or make a mistake,
the children will poke fun at me.
My hands tremble:
I rest my head on my chest,
pick my nails,
frown at the spelling paper,
look at the words scribbled on the piece.

She speaks and I flinch,
her voice scares me,
I cup my hands over my ears to shut her out.
She walks closer,
I withdraw from her.
She squats down beside me:
gently touches the top of my head,
building a secure association with me.
She leans forward and cuddles my fingers in hers,
places one under the words and spells,
repeats and spells the sounds, dog, cat, rat,
my body relaxes and the fear passes.
I find myself smiling and the words flowing.

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