Sentimental Education

Mary Ruefle

Ann Galbraith
loves Barry Soyers.
Please pray for Lucius Fenn
who suffers greatly whilst shaking hands.
Bonny Polton
loves a pug named Cowl.
Please pray for Olina Korsk
who holds the record for missing fingers.
Leon Bendrix loves Odelia Jonson
who loves Kurt who loves Carlos who loves Paul.
Please pray for Cortland Filby
who handles a dead wasp, a conceit for his mother.
Harold loves looking at Londa's hair under the microscope.
Londa loves plaiting the mane of her pony.
Please pray for Fancy Dancer
who is troubled by the vibrissa in his nostrils.
Nadine St. Clair loves Ogden Smythe
who loves blowing his nose on postage stamps.
Please pray for William Shakespeare
who does not know how much we love him, miss him and think of him.
Yukiko Pearl loves the little bits of toffee
that fall to the floor when Jeffrey is done with his snack.
Please pray for the florist Marieko
who wraps roses in a paper cone then punches the wrong code.
Muriel Frame loves retelling the incident
that happened on the afternoon of November third.
Please pray for our teacher Ursula Twombly
who does not know the half of it.
By the radiator in a wooden chair
wearing woolen stockings sits a little girl
in a dunce's cap, a paper cone rolled to a point
and inverted on her hair; she's got her hands
in her lap and her head bowed down, her chin
is trembling with having been singled out like this
and she is sincere in her fervent wish to die.
Take it away and give it to the Tartars
who roll gloriously into battle.
From Post Meridian, published by Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2000. Copyright © 2000 by Mary Ruefle. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Poems by This Author

Mimosa by Mary Ruefle
Pink dandruff of some tree
The Daze by Mary Ruefle
It was one of those mornings the earth seemed
The Hand by Mary Ruefle
The teacher asks a question
The Letter by Mary Ruefle
Beloved, men in thick green coats came crunching

Further Reading

Back to School Poems
by Grace Schulman
Being Jewish in a Small Town
by Lyn Lifshin
Evening Walk as the School Year Starts
by Sydney Lea
First Gestures
by Julia Spicher Kasdorf
Gradeschool's Large Windows
by Thomas Lux
In Michael Robins’s class minus one
by Bob Hicok
M. Degas Teaches Art & Science at Durfee Intermediate School, Detroit 1942
by Philip Levine
Mary's Lamb
by Sarah Josepha Hale
by Martín Espada
Nonsense Alphabet
by Edward Lear
One A.M. [excerpt]
by David Young
Panty Raid
by Terri Ford
by Elizabeth Powell
by Shel Silverstein
The Hand
by Mary Ruefle
The High-School Lawn
by Thomas Hardy
The Junior High School Band Concert
by David Wagoner
The Testing-Tree
by Stanley Kunitz
Theme for English B
by Langston Hughes
We Real Cool
by Gwendolyn Brooks
Why Latin Should Still Be Taught in High School
by Christopher Bursk
You and Your Ilk
by Thomas Lux