Not My Narrative

| November 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

For JK, and AD, and everybody else. 

Nice hands

Say “I’m mad”

Nice hands

No hitting Joe or others

(Touch your nose, touch your chin)

On the hard days, all I can think is I am not good enough for these kids. It’s like a drum.


Luke feels: crying.

When I wrote to Pat Toomey before the vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as education secretary, his office’s form letter response spouted some nonsense about how DeVos would “allow parents to select schools that would best meet the needs of their children with disabilities.”

Let me tell you, I want to say to him, to Devos, about the students I work with. Tell me whether your charter schools, your vouchers will meet their needs. Let me tell you how, the same day of the confirmation hearing, I spent 45 minutes walking the halls with a frantic 21-year-old student.

Let me tell about how you bolted from the room in a panic, threw yourself, over and over again, to the floor, sobbing for your mother, who was late to pick you up from school.

I want to say this because I know when people talk about school choice, they’re forgetting about you. I want them to remember. But your fear and confusion are not my props. Your needs are not my narrative.

Your needs are not my narrative. On lonely nights, I tell myself I am content to be the kind of person who lives for their work. But my work doesn’t belong to me. My job is a background to myself. I am still learning this.


stereotypy stereotypy stereotypy stereotypy

meaningless behavior (touch your nose, touch your chin)

social significance

What did you have for dinner last night? What are you doing after school?

French fries. Doctors office.

Quiet mouth. 

I worry that I am not good enough for you but then here is the 8th grade math teacher literally giving you a preschool coloring book. You are 13.

What’s this shape called?


What’s this shape called?


Rectangle. What’s this shape called?


These kids deserve better. You deserve better. I am not good enough but neither is what I am seeing. I want to focus my energy to make things better, but I don’t know how.

I am sorry for everything that comes next for you.
I am sorry for everything that doesn’t.


Okay, one minute.

All right, beads down please.

One more minute?

Okay, one more minute.

This job is going to gut me. Is going to break my heart over and over. I know this, knew this. And yet.

Not my narrative.

Quiet mouth.

I see you, I want to say.

Nice hands. 

We are never going to catch up to you.


featured photo credit: Pascal Rey Photographies _DSC5136_v1 via photopin (license)

Tags: , ,

Category: featured, Poetry, Prose and Comedy, Reflections, Social Activism

Emily Hurd

About the Author ()

Emily is a special education major from a tiny town in southern Pennsylvania. She's a firm believer in the virtues of art-making, rambling discussion, and consuming excessive amounts of both coffee and tea. Her other interests include reading and writing poetry, poking around in abandoned houses, and procrastinating indefinitely. Her proudest moment involved replacing the word "oil" on construction signs with "fish" so that the signs in question read "fresh fish and chips."

Leave a Reply