81. Class

“Book
Sun
Eye
Gate
Plane”

What the hell? thought
Barker.
As the teacher
Printed on the board, face
Turned away,
He had lost his chance
To read her mouth. Then
What were–eye, gate?
He poked James.
James would not turn
Round. So,
Cranky, Barker
Copied the words down.

In their desks his
Classmates squirmed, took
Notes. Some
Asked their questions,
Lips garbled to
Sight. In
Full front stood
Teacher, and she
Seemed to be just
Calling random words–he
Caught one now, one
Then–but made no
Sense. Not
Sentences. A list.
Of what?
Barker scanned
The board again,
Intent.

Story?
Speculating, with hands
Beneath desk,
He toyed with his
Signs. BOOK SHE
WILL GIVE SHE–
He switched
Over, tried to do it
In his head.
How combine those
Words? How could they
Fit? First word,
Book. Maybe:

Book about
The sun? We’ll read
With our eye?
We’ll run out
The gate and–maybe–
Ride a plane?

No.

Try again.
Could it be:
A man read
A book. The sun
Lit his eye.
He crashed with his
Plane into some
Gate?

No.

Book sun eye gate–
Plane.
Lindbergh maybe
Flying into town. Plane
Crossed the sun. We
Shade our eyes.
Through the gate he
Walks–book in his
Hand. Says:
“MAN WE FIND WE.”

No.

I can
Read a magic,
Secret magic
Book. Sun
Inside my eye.
Eye can burn
The teacher. I
Hop the gate and
Then I get
Away. I get
The plane. I fly
Away.

No.

Teacher’s lips were
Forming: “Is this
One?”
She would
Write a word and
Then ask, “Is this
One?” So,
Must be some type,
Be some type of
Word. She would
Ask them, they said
Yes or No.
Barker jabbed James’
Shoulder with his pencil.
James sat still.
He nudged James more
Sharply: Teacher’s Pet!

Barker shrugged.
Soon he fell to
Watching classmates’ hands.
Their crude wriggling
Sometimes looked like
Signs. But gibberish.
Monkeys, he thought–
But he must have
Laughed. Faces
Craned at him.
Pointedly the teacher
Did not look. Just
On and on,
“This word one?” One
What?

One girl–who lived
Out where Barker did–
From the back row
Where bad spellers sat, she
Passed him up
A note.
He pounced on it,
Eager, and unfolded.
Note said:
“Gramer. Nons.”

So
That’s it! Barker
Smiled. He straightened up.
Teacher’s mouth:
“Roosevelt.
China.
Water-spout.”
Person.
Place.
Thing.

Noun.
He passed back his
Pencil to the girl.
He could steal
Another, he felt
Sure.

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