by Faith Shearin
In the spelling bee my daughter wore a good
brown dress and kept her hands folded.
There were twelve children speaking
into a microphone that was taller than
they were. Each time it was her turn
I could barely look. It wasn’t that I wanted
her to win but I hoped she would be
happy with herself. The words were too hard
for me; I would have missed chemical,
thermos, and dessert. Each time she spelled
one correctly my heart became a bird.
She once fluttered so restlessly beneath
my skin and, on the morning of her arrival,
her little red hands held nothing.
Her life since has been a surprise: she can
sew; she can draw; she can read. She hates
raisins but loves science. All the parents
must feel this, watching from the cheap
folding chairs. Somewhere inside them
love took shape and now
it stands at the microphone, spelling.
“Spelling Bee” by Faith Shearin from Moving the Piano. © Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2011.