No Namer: A Poem on My Students’ Handwriting

“I have a no-namer!”

Called out absent-mindedly

 

As I instinctively write your name at the top of the paper mid-bell

Half-scold

Half-acknowledgment

Of you

 

I fear the day when I sit down

Shuffle through stale loose-leaf

Stiffened by time

 

Saved from the crumb-riddled bookbag

Or the recycling bin

Dutifully emptied every night

 

Fear for when I can’t tell this handwriting is yours

If I place my thumb over “Name: ___________”

 

I fear the day when your stories

Your triumphs

Your fears

 

Cannot be conveyed by your oversized dots on “i’s”

Your determined reluctance to craft anything resembling a capital letter

 

Or the way

That your rounded vowels

The a’s and o’s especially

Take up a little too much space

Actually, they take up way too much space.

 

There is laughter in the loops of your “e’s”

A decided timidity in the perpetual backwards lean

Of your half-attempted cursive

Half-lazy

Last period

Intoxicated with the warm breath of a spring day

Hinting at adolescent reluctance to move forward

 

“I have a no-namer!”

While knowing very certainly

That every letter

Is inscribed with you

 

Photo courtesy of S. Tore, Flickr Creative Commons

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