Saturday, September 08, 2012

From a History of the Village Where I Live

About a one-room schoolhouse in use in the 1830's.....

The first seats were long homemade benches. The deep window sills held the lunch pails. Just inside the door was a low bench that held the drinking water pail. This had a long-handled tin dipper hanging inside it. Pupils considered it a treat to be named by the teacher to go and get a pail of water from a nearby neighbor.

The school was not graded. Promotion and assignment of subjects was up to the teacher. The books ran from the First Reader to the Fifth Reader. After a year or more in the Fifth Reader a boy or girl usually stopped going to school. In those days school started at 9:00 a.m. There was a 15-minute morning and afternoon recess, an hour for lunch, and finished at 4:00 p.m. School was seven months long. It closed in April, and they never had homework.

The teacher received $25 a month for her services. Her total pay for a year was $175.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Dear Life

I ran across an old poem today:

Dear Life

When I was eight,
my mother's uterus wrung
itself out in a burst
of grief and a shower
of blood.
They lifted her away
and left me
with the one-inch sibling
who never was:
Laurel or Ronald, who lived
only in my diary.

Today, a nurse apologizes
for hurting me as she thumps
my arm and pulls her needle
in and out, drilling
for blood.
She thinks my veins are hidden,
but I have reduced them
to capillaries.
I will yield nothing
from my body before its time.