First Period

Brave Mrs. Kenley turns her back on the first grade,

and like a grass fire, from raw blade to raw blade,

enmity spreads.


Mr. Hawkins twists paperclips

around his knuckles.


Mrs. Thompson and Mrs. Hall sit at their stern desks,

squinting at long absent children, shuddering

at the mirage of Theodore, his head clean and empty

as a silver pond. No cultivated seed grew in his acre,

no stray fact lodged between his teeth.

The void must be extracted,

that was the clock for Theodore.


Mrs. Thompson remembers him

without even the fondness

one feels for a good meal.




Samn Stockwell has been widely published, and her two books of poetry, Theater of Animals and Rascals, won the National Poetry Series and the Elixir Press Editor’s Prize. Her poems have been published by AGNI, Mudlark, Salamander, and Poet-Lore, among others. She has taught poetry and English at the New England Young Writer’s Conference and Community College of Vermont.

“First Period” appears in TLR: Babel Fish