World Enough Writers Anthology Editor: 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
Poem from Mrs. Nelson's ClassThe 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?