by Maggie Rosen
By the time I walk from parking lot to middle school,
The mockingbird is repeating songs. He sounds
like he is from here. Sometimes I hear a bird
riff on a tropical number, as if lost
or in the wrong crowd. This one sings a local canon:
I open the book to where Moises was
the last time. He looks down as if to say
“New, again.” We begin at the initial sounds,
battle against hard consonants, gape open at
He is happy to be here, earnest, tired.
He remembers seven sounds. Last week he remembered five.
His parents gave him one road out –
through Oaxaca (start it with a “wa”).
I watch him lose this way with each syllable stressed. In fifteen years,
seven sounds learned. He will
be digging dirt, hammering nails while
I coax these sounds out of younger cousins.
I want to teach him all new songs.
Maggie Rosen lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. She grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina, and went to Brown University. Her poems have been published in Sow’s Ear, Minimus, Plainsongs, and the Hungry As We Are, Winners, and Cabin Fever anthologies. She has worked as an education writer and teacher of English to speakers of other languages for more than 15 years. She currently works as an ESOL teacher to preschoolers with special needs.