Thursday, August 4, 2016

Poetry Thursday: Nancy Drew as Teacher

It's early August, which would have still been high summer during my youth, but in these days of high stakes testing, many schools are starting earlier, which means these are the waning days of summer.

I originally thought I'd have my chapbooks at the beginning of summer, but there's been an 8 week delay, and it won't surprise me if the delay stretches longer.

It won't be a bad thing to have an autumn release of my chapbook.  I need to start to think about doing a few readings perhaps, or having a party here or there.  My younger self might have already done the planning and the organizing.  My older self says, "See how it all works out--I had no readings scheduled, and so I can wait to plan readings until I have the books in hand."  I've done pre-release readings hoping that people would buy books, and no one did.

As I sent out e-mails to let pre-release purchasers know of the delay, my thoughts returned to the poems in the chapbook, and since teachers head back to school down here a week from Monday, let me post my Nancy Drew as teacher poem to cheer up your Thursday.

Nancy Drew and the Mystery of the Pre-Drop Outs

Nancy Drew decides she needs new
mysteries to solve, so she returns
to school, to mold young minds.

Long ago, in between cracking cases
involving diaries or letters or maps and solving
secrets in attics and towers, she got a teaching
certificate, as ambitious women did in those days.
Now she calls the school board to see
how she might be of use.

Her credentials, old and out of date,
don't prevent her from taking charge
of the most hopeless classrooms,
the students on a layover
on their journey to juvenile court.

Given tattered textbooks and worksheets without
answer keys, Nancy Drew adopts
a different approach.  As always, she calls
on her friends.

Bess runs a bakeshop, so she teaches
the students to cook, a retro home-ec
approach.  Nancy Drew's feminist critics
would not approve, but this generation
of students, raised on cooking shows, responds
with rare enthusiasm.

Nancy Drew believes in fresh air and sunshine,
so she recruits her friend George, a marine
biologist, for ideas.  George leads
field trips to various ecosystems:
swamp walks and snorkeling and soon
some of the students are ready
for college-track science classes.

These clues to a better future don't prevent
some of her students from sneaking
away to explore more ancient secrets.
She tries to keep them focused on the future,
but she remembers Ned Nickerson
and those cars now considered classics.

She thinks Of Ned in the roadster,
and later, her love confined to the hospital bed,
immune from rescue, unable to hear
her whispered pleas.

She kisses the old locket always worn
around her neck and writes the day's lesson
plan on the white board.  At the end
of the day, she erases the smeared
lines from the board to leave a blank
space to be filled again in the morning.

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