My Teacher’s Allergies

My teacher has these allergies

That don’t seem like normal maladies.

Listen, and tell me, if you will,

If these behaviors make a teacher ill.

Burping and yawning, somewhat normal things,

Make my teacher’s eyeballs sting.

Say, “Excuse me” after you do it,

She’ll say, “Just stop. I’m allergic to it.”

Unpushed chairs and crooked tables

Cause a rash upon her elbows.

Dirty hands or food on your face?

Both will cause her heartbeat to race.

The drinking fountain during instruction

Will cause her tear duct’s abnormal function.

With tears streaming down her hot, red cheeks

She’ll say, “It’s my allergies; no more drinks for three weeks.”

Toys in kids’ pockets she’s not very good with.

Without your full attention joints get stiff.

And don’t dare mess with any of her stuff

Or the skin on her feet will start to get rough.

The sound of Velcro makes her sneeze,

Quibbling gives her itchy knees

Excuses, even if they’re true,

Make her ears turn black and blue.

Underwear showing, or worse, a butt crack,

Will make her allergies start to attack.

Her nose will run, her eyes will water,

Her hand on her head means she’s feeling hotter.

If on your skin you choose to write,

With my teacher it makes her throat go tight.

And don’t put those germy hands in your mouth.

She’s allergic to even the thought of filth.

No interrupting, no answering others’ questions.

These only worsen my teacher’s conditions.

Don’t pick your nose, don’t let it run,

The resulting reaction is a frightening one.

If you echo the teacher or somehow interfere

She’ll get a buzzing in her inner ear.

And jiggling or moving excessively

Will make her stomach bloat extensively.

If you raise your hand when you have a thought

And, when called upon, say, “I forgot,”

My teacher’s breathing practically stops

As all of her innards tie up in knots.

Noticing a spider on the floor

Won’t make her allergies act up more,

But if you mention it to the class

Her allergies are worse than any time in the past.

With my teacher we’ll never have opposite day.

Her hands swell when things don’t go just the right way.

Be sure not to let your zipper get stuck

Or my teacher, with her allergies, will be out of luck.

So, my teacher’s allergies… what do you think?

Will she really pour tears if you just get a drink?

Or is she just faking it day after day

To make sure we behave in a certain way?

The Embroidery

Each fall as I see hillsides of deep color and texture, I am reminded of an embroidery panel of my mother’s that I saw as a child.

I have no memories of my mother sitting and embroidering. I suppose, now, that she did such things after we kids were tucked in or perhaps while I was away at school, especially for the two or three years when we lived in town, prior to the farm, after which I’m sure she never sat down to embroider again.

Despite that, every fall, I am taken back to our house in town, upstairs, to a small nook off the main part of my parents’ bedroom, to my mom’s sewing area where I discovered the embroidery.

The panel was large, perhaps two and a half feet across and a foot high, the left third or so embroidered, the rest just muslin with faint veins of blue guidelines.

I ran my hand over the finished part, astounded at how an entire hillside of evergreens, leafy trees, bushes, and reeds grew from the different stitches and small knots made with various hues of thread. Where and when had she learned to make a piece of fabric come to life? Looking at it was probably my first experience with art appreciation.

I don’t recall asking my mom about the embroidery, but perhaps I did, or maybe she noticed me admiring it, for I have a vivid memory of the day, not long after that, when she introduced me to the craft.

I was home sick from school, in my parents’ king size bed, heavy with bed covers, their warmth, their scents. Their room was just down the hall from the kitchen where I could hear my mom and call to her when need be. She tended to me with soup, 7-Up, and things to keep me occupied between naps.embroidery thread

At one point of waking, she was there with a small piece of muslin and several shiny, silky threads. I have no memory of her teaching me, but she must have, for I can see myself, a pajamaed girl in that vast sea of bedding, hunched over my work until it sapped from me every bit of the little energy I had that day.

When I could concentrate no more, I lifted the work from my lap to take a final look at what I had accomplished, and when I did, up came the sheet along with the embroidery. Every stitch I had made had gone through not only the muslin, but the sheet beneath it, the sheet in my lap that warmed my skinny, seven-year-old legs.

“Mom!” I screamed, feverish, fatigued, and devastated that my embroidery would forever be a part of her bed.

She was there right away, not angry, tender as always, telling me not to worry, that she could fix it. When I awoke, the embroidery was detached from the bed and there were more stitches in the muslin than I had put there and they were even and lovely and not those of a beginner’s hand.

I have no other recollection of my mother’s embroidery panel, no knowledge of whether it was ever completed. She may have put a lot of time into it initially, and then, as her days and priorities changed, put it aside, then, finally, away.

Yet still, the embroidery that I see every fall upon textured hillsides is that season in my life, that day, in particular, when my mother’s presence, her attention, her patience, were the stitches that constituted her love.