Tuesday, April 23, 2013

PoMo2013 - Poem 23- "Fifth Grade"




Fifth Grade
  If your fidelity to perfectionism is too high, you never do anything.
                                                                     - David Foster Wallace

 
When I was in elementary school,
I got A+’s in Handwriting.
In fifth grade, the only student
who came close to me in that subject
was a boy named Barry.
I don't know
what happened
to Barry and his handwriting
but mine led me
to hours of anguish.
 
I’d get all the way to the end of a page
without making a mistake
and then
on the last line
if my cursive wasn’t just right
and if an erasure
threatened
to expose my imperfections
I'd have to re-start.
 
My sister said I made her crazy
watching me
re-write
letters
to my 5th grade-pen pal.
And you know the envelopes
had to be perfect too (but that's
another story).

For class, I wrote my stories
over and over again
and I wrote with a #3 pencil,
as if I didn’t want anybody
to see what I was writing.

Mother kept telling me
to use #2 pencils,
but the print
didn’t look as pretty
on the page.

To make a long story short:
I got A+ in Handwriting,
but I didn’t turn
my work in
on time.

This led people to think I was slow.
- Esther Altshul Helfgott
4/23/13

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