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No-Name Boy 

Each day the no-name boy

read to me, his new teacher.


I'd met kids like him before—

worn-out clothes, pale skin,


dad in jail, younger siblings,

mom frazzled.


No-names never stuck around

long enough to be remembered.


The reading teacher had

no time for him, even though


he was eight years old

and reading like he was six.


We'd meet for ten minutes.

He'd read a page, I'd read a page.


I had no plan, since he'd be

leaving soon, wouldn't he?


It seemed a miracle when

the words started flowing.


Book in hand, face aglow,

he'd sit beside my desk,


turn to page one, and take off.

I was just along for the ride.


Before I knew it,

the memo arrived.


He is moving to Florida.

Prepare a report card.


"________ has made great progress

in Reading this quarter."


He cried and told me I was

the best teacher he'd ever had.


If that was true,

I could do a lot better.


And I did, thanks to a boy

whose name I forget.

  • A poem by Carol Shank.

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