Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I assess the shadows beneath her eyes, evident since the first day of this semester. The sandy blonde pelt of her head is as matted as the tricot she wears. The ever-fading pattern, paler than pale, is threadbare on the elbows. The grey of her school shirt etches those elbows, already stripped of baby fat. A smear of food encrusts the right cuff. Pumpkin, turnip, maybe pickle from a birthday Big Mac? She hands me a note, ostensibly written by a father I’ve never met. A slipped stitch shows on her waistband. I edge between the rows of desks, pocketing the latest excuse. The words are sketchy, the ink smudged. Her singed eyebrows whisper of things I’d rather not know. I gather up the class sets, today Larousse.

wintry day
the smell of rain
on a pink sweater

by Cynthia Rowe
Woollahra, NSW, Australia

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