By March or April everyone at school was begging for summer
but not me
I remember year after year I got judgmental stares
When in a crowd of summer fever
I said I didn't want school to end.
looks of disgust
when I said I loved school
when I said I hated summer.
The desks give me a sense of stability
The teachers gave me attention and affection I so desperately needed
The books let me escape into my imagination
The math problems no one else answered made me feel accomplished
My grades on a slip of paper were the one thing that could bring me praise
Because it seemed I wasn't good at anything else
the teacher's pet
Back then school was a home to me when going to my house felt like going to war.
I'd pick up my bag and sit in the soldier-bus in silence
until my feet greeted the doorstep
I'd take a deep breath
preparing for the explosions and casualties
and I'd open the door
careful to be unnoticed by my enemy.
My room was the panic-pit of safety
in a minefield waiting for its victim to emerge
At school, my home, I didn't have to worry about mistakes
and I rarely made any
But in that house
it was a different story
and hell itself would greet me
An open hand would pull the trigger
a purple stain was the bullet wound
and the words would set off bombs in my mind
destroying the dwindling fields of self-esteem and emotional stability
war-knives engraved memories
traumatization came easily.
I may have been a soldier,
but I had no strength to lift a gun
pointed at someone I both feared
Morning was my shipment home
battle-wounds hidden under clothing
A teacher's smiling face would greet me
and I'd find a family-like net of safety
The other kids may laugh and shame me
but at home I was invincible
I couldn't be touched
and my self-esteem was too nonexistent to be knocked down.
I'd collect report cards like pictures of loved ones to keep me company
At home I didn't have to think of the war at that house
I could pretend it never happened
pretend hard corners of walls caused those stains
Summer was the longest active duty
until years later
when the soldier decided
to raise the gun.