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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 12, Number 4, December 2018

Glenn G. Coats
Carolina Shores, North Carolina, USA


The principal asks me to stop by her office. “It’s about Millie Belardo,” she says as I pull up a chair. “All of the children in her class have a mother or grandmother coming in for the Mother’s Day Tea. Millie’s mother can’t get off from work; there are no other relatives nearby.” Dr. Stevens goes on to say that the counselor asked Millie whom she wanted to invite, and that Millie chose me. I explain that I am a father and it might be a bit awkward. “You’ll do fine,” the principal says. “Wear a suit.”

The room is bursting with color, desks grouped into tables, each with a vase of flowers. There are string beans growing from milk cartons on the window sills and Happy Mother’s Day banners hang across bulletin boards. Millie is all dressed up in an outfit the school nurse found for her. She is wearing a green jumper and a white turtleneck. I pull up a little chair next to Millie’s and greet the students and mothers around me.

The children serve us fruit punch and cookies. They sing a song about being happy as a volunteer plays the piano. Then each child stands and reads a poem about their mother and what they are thankful for. Millie rises up when it is her turn.

I thank my teacher.
He teaches me to read and write.
He teaches me to shoot good baskets
on the playground.
He teaches me to say, “I can do this.”
My teacher is my friend.

Applause is loudest for Millie Belardo whose father and sisters are somewhere near water in Mexico, who spoke not a word of English when she arrived in the office, who held her mother for the longest time before ever letting go.

sea turtle
the weight of the moon
on her back

dolphin tails
the way wishes
come and go



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