Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Things You Think You Ought To Know

the things you think you ought to know
are snickering in the closet by the chalk board erasers.
the things you ought to know
(by now)


linger by the door when you line up to go home.

they know who you are;
the one with the scuffed shoes
(whose shoes are polished every night

bright beyond new penny, bright)
who dreams while the ice cream melts in the cup
with the flat wooden spoon
day-by-day in the afternoons.


but you know the clouds in pink and blue

are scudding across a winter sky
that looks so springlike out the stenciled windows
and you know the trinity is three leaves of golds


kissed on a single stem,

is loving you and kind
and you can run can run like the wind
far from the things they think you ought to know


and the guilt of the red and green crepe paper bells

made out of paper
made out of paper and they never ring.


the rosy punch and cookies when you

haven't finished your arithmetic
you haven't finished your arithmetic


but you live in a house

where you can count on love
to triumph always in the end
to triumph always in the end


whenever the pastel skies can snow

over the things you ought to know.
over the things you ought to know.



mary angela douglas 29 december 2013




Note on the poem: this poem stems from an experience in elementary school on the last day before Christmas vacation when we had our Christmas partythe last two hours of the day only the teacher held me back from the party because I hadn't finished the arithmetic for the day from the problems on the board because I couldn't understand them somehow.


Finally, she said in a voice edged with exasperation, well, Mary go on to the party.I can see you're never going to finish.  And I remember the feeling of happiness going to the party and sadness at being the last one and the happiness of going

home.