“I Found the Little Girl Alone”

…recollection from a day of teaching some time ago….

“I Found the Little Girl Alone”

I found the little girl alone, a leaner ladybug
Forlorn and crying in the cavern of the Cafeteria quite late
One afternoon; she sat with lunchbox and an empty plate.
“What brings you here?” I said. She just shrugged,
And said she didn’t know. I asked if she shouldn’t be
In class, and would she like some help to find her way?
“Oh, no!” she said, and then a lengthy silence. “I have to stay
And hurt a while until I’m done!” To me
She looked so small so delicate, and worn, so “Why the tears?
“My best friend hates me, and I don’t know why.”
“Well, what, then,” made her think she couldn’t try
To ask her friend just what she’d done? “That,” she feared,
“Will make it worse! She told me she’s got another friend at home
And now she took back her ring, and I’m here all alone!”

…I managed to walk the little girl back to her classroom, and in she went apparently in a kind of daze.  A few weeks later, I saw her in the playground laughing and seemingly happy as a lark, but from that day forward to the day she showed up in my senior English class, whenever our eyes would meet from time to time in the course of years of crossing paths and there was always a kind of sobriety in her glance that expressed thanks for having heard her and again, for having never mentioned that afternoon again.

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