The death of Bernardo

I remember a moment in fifth grade,
when it was announced
that Sister Bernardo,
who taught seventh grade,
had died.

There was this brief
eruption of joy that
we would not, ever,
have to endure
her legendary cruelty.
It was an utterly spontaneous, and
therefore uncontrollable, eruption
which collapsed almost
immediately into despair.

There stood, at the head
of the classroom,
Sister Mary Henry,
in all her indominable
forbiddenness, and we knew
that she had recorded the reaction
of each and every child
in her prodigious
and never-failing memory.

A Mothers Day poem

In winter, the stars
Can suck the light
Right out of the sky.
It must have been like that
The night I was born
In the camp,
Although I had no clue
About that kind of thing.

My brothers, already ancient
Thought the bombed-out
Staircases, leading only up
And nowhere else,
Were built that way on purpose,
For them to play on,
And inevitably jump or fall,
Gravity victorious after all.

Children can’t be disappointed,
Having expected nothing.
Children think hunger
Is normal, pain is life,
And deprivation obvious.

Mothers aren’t like that.
They only wish their children
Could long for something.