Mrs. Perryman, fifth-grade teacher,
chalked lines from Apples of Gold
on the board every morning.
We copied them with diligence
letter by letter
until we had a collection
of sayings to live by:
ancient and practical
jolts of kindness doled out
as morning exercise in imitation
and proper penmanship.
What beautiful sentiments
must have lined the insides
of the giant garbage bins
when school reached year’s end
and all the desks were cleared,
those hollow mouths swept clean
of half pencils, paperless crayons
and forgotten spiral notebooks.
Imagine those words roiling—
entries in a lottery,
turned round and round—
and those few scraps that blew
into the world as fragments of wisdom
cribbed by vanished schoolchildren.