School Nurse's Journal

Outside the school the kids swat about;
their swings jabber with them.
Just off the morning yellow bus,
being back to the books of no import,
hatted, coated, their bright-colored
wings see-sawing now on the sunlight.
Be prepared for anything
reads the motto on my office wall,
for scrapes, nosebleeds,
poison ivy, geenstick
fractures, chipped front teeth,
torn britches, wet clothes,
have something for those
who forget their lunch,
be watchful of bruises and sprains.
I check my cabinets again--
ice bags, bandages, sanitary pads,
peanut butter, and bread--
and draw up lists:
TD shots for tots at 10,
sports physicals at two,
dental hygiene, grade four,
conference with special ed.
Wheezing, chickenpox, name it,
get it. I don't mind the head lice
anymore, not since the mouse
last year, found fast asleep
and nesting in the upsweep
of Megan's hair, a cute farm critter,
just cut loose; Lord, so alive
and breathing. Let things drone,
this first school autumn day,
just a few larky flies coming in,
lured perhaps out of dung by
a whiff from the teachers' room.
As I listen for the first school bell
kids outdoors still buzz the yard,
their swings whirring with them:
higher and higher to pump at dreams,
airy as fifty snowflakes.

:: Celia Brown, in American Journal of Nursing (2000)

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