Paris Metro
The pencils and new wax smells
of the first day of second grade
Are here today, shrinking me down
to four feet high, beginning again
Scared and short and alone
clutching my lunch box and my mother's hand
Hello, my name is... on my sweater
Molly!  I can write it in cursive, too
I am proud of this, that I know
my name, that I am brave
Scared and short, but I look you in the eye
You see me as a tall woman
Maybe she is a German, you think
You might never guess that I'm 
looking at you from a small brown
classroom in Wisconsin, USA, where I am seven
You have no basis of comparison
with your baguette and book
As custom demands, you avoid all eyes
But mine are different, because I am little
inside, at least, and wonder
why your French subway smells
so much like my American
Number 2 pencil memories of the first
day of second grade


15 September 1997

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