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First Grade


Sunday afternoon and she looks up
from her drawing, wants to know
if I know the game where you put
your head down and thumb up

until someone picks you.
"Yes," I say, across the room and half-
listening. "'Well, I always pick my friends
but they never pick me." I pause

in the middle of a sentence.
"Who are your friends?"
"Everyone!" she says, as if I had asked
one plus one or the color of the sky.

Sunlight draws a skewed rectangle
across the floor. "I see," I say
and let my notebook close, seeing
children in rows, heads on desks,

her big ears poking through sandy hair,
listening for a step or a breath, "Yes,
I remember that game." And I stand
and walk over to find the outline of her hand

plunging through a white sky.


Derek Sheffield

Southern Humanities Review

Volume 51, Number 1


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