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It happened so quickly.
I was rounding the kids up
To come back inside the church building to our classroom.
They were all lined up along the wheelchair ramp.
I had run back to the playground
To snag a straggler still on the swings.

Billy must have seen something in the shrubs
That got his attention.
He started to climb the metal railing
Along the edge of the ramp
To reach for whatever had caught his eye.

Well, Tommy thought he’d give Billy a hand.
He grabbed Billy’s leg to help him climb higher,
But Billy didn’t see him coming.
Tommy helped him up, all right –
Up and over the railing to the ground below.

I saw it happen,
But wasn’t close enough or quick enough
To stop Tommy or to catch Billy.
Luckily, Billy didn’t fall far
And he landed in the grass.

He looked OK, but he kept saying his arm hurt.
I took him to the director’s office,
And we examined his arm as best we could.
It wasn’t swollen or discolored.
We didn’t know what else to do but keep an eye on it
And him.

Anyway, I guess it was several hours
After you took him home,
And he continued all evening to complain,
That you took him in for an X-ray
And found out his arm really was broken –
Fortunately, just a hairline fracture.

When I found out, I was sick about it.
Had I overlooked anything?
Could I have prevented it?
My greatest comfort is that
It took you – his own mother –
That long to discover it was broken,
And you’re a doctor.

So, anyway,
Thank you for not suing the daycare center
Or having me fired.
I’m just a poor grad student,
And so is my husband, who has no job at all.

Thanks for understanding
That we all did the best we could
And that sometimes little boys
Just fall down.

------
Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. - Groucho Marx



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Comments

The following comments are for "Note to Billy's Mom"
by LinnieRed

Fascinating
You told the story with skill and grace. My respect for you will be great regardless of how you answer the question: "Is this real?"

( Posted by: seanspacey [Member] On: March 6, 2005 )

Sean (& Felicia): from Darby to Billy
Thanks, Sean! This was my largely spontaneous response to FeliciaStone's "For Darby" and the challenge she issued to other writers to acknowledge those who care for our children.

I've had no children of my own to require care (I find husbands enough of a handful!), but almost twenty years ago I worked in several daycare centers. This real-life incident was the first thing that popped into my head when I looked back on my experiences caring for other people's children.

Glad you found it to have "skill and grace." Frankly, I pondered whether to post it as a poem or as "Flash ummmm...Non-Fiction?" I actually have another version formatted in prose style, without all the hard returns! Consciously "cheated" by posting as a poem, suspecting that the Poetry area gets higher "Nielsen ratings" than the prose areas here at Lit (though I have no proof of that.) My apologies to the REAL poets! ; )

( Posted by: LinnieRed [Member] On: March 6, 2005 )

Sometimes Little Boys

Linnie ~ I chuckled over your above comment. As I read through your poem I kept thinking "This would really work better as prose -- afterall, it's essentially written that way to begin with." I hemmed and hawed over whether that was a fair opinion, though, to the extent that I read through your poem several times before making my way to the comments area.

You've got a few stanzas that I like in poetic format -- particularly, the final two. I chuckled over your last couple of lines. "... sometimes little boys/ just fall down" is a deft and tidy way to finish up this story-poem.

I think your instincts are right that this poem would probably work better as prose -- then, again, I think you're also right that the poetry section gets slightly higher page views (though I'd have to add I don't think it's always quite that simple -- factor in the draw of certain individuals, interest-generation by way of title and the comments-beget-comments clause). I'm not sure I qualify as a real poet -- there are days when I feel more like the velveteen rabbit variety -- but if there's anything to pardon, I'll automatically extend one. After all, quibbles over whether or not you've selected the perfect category from a drop-down menu tend to pale in comparison with the pleasure of reading your work. Keep it up.

( Posted by: hazelfaern [Member] On: March 6, 2005 )

Dang!!
I've been watching for this in "What's new" - I don't know how I missed it. That's why I checked under your name to make sure.

This was awesome! I loved the ending so much, too - it made me laugh. Isn't it so true?

I'm looking forward to seeing it in prose too.

Loved it!!

Felicia

( Posted by: feliciastone [Member] On: March 8, 2005 )





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