World Enough Writers Banner

World Enough Writers Anthology Editor: Marilyn Nelson

Marilyn Nelson

Marilyn Nelson is the author or translator of over 25 books of poems for adults, young adults, and children, among them Carver: A Life in Poems and A Wreath for Emmett Till. In 2012 she was awarded the Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry. She is a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets and Poet-in-Residence of the Poets Corner at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. “For years, every time I looked at the photograph of my mother with her 1954-55 class, I wondered what those children experienced. I’m so glad my friends agreed to explore that question. I loved trying to catch Mama’s voice in the poems I wrote for this collection."

Mrs. Nelson's Class

Available now from Amazon
Add to cart

Poem from Mrs. Nelson's Class

The Children's Moon
by Marilyn Nelson
In my navy shirtwaist dress and three-inch heels, 
my pearl clip-ons and newly red-rinsed curls,
I smoothed on lipstick, lipstick-marked my girls,
saluted and held thumbs-up to my darling Mel,
and drove myself to school for the first day.

Over the schoolyard a silver lozenge
dissolved into the morning’s blue cauldron.
Enter twenty seven-year-old white children.
Look, children, I said as they found their desks:
The children’s moon! A special good luck sign!

We pledged allegiance, and silently prayed.
George Washington watched sternly from his frame.
I turned to the blackboard and wrote my name.
I thought I heard, She’s the REAL teacher’s maid! 
I thought I heard echoes of history.

But when I turned, every child in the room
had one hand up, asking,  What is the children’s moon?