“When I Grow Up” by Arvilla Fee

         "When I Grow Up"

It’s an ordinary day 
in my 5th grade classroom,
relaxed even,
which is as rare as unicorns.

Expecting clever answers,
I ask the kids, one-by-one,
what they want to be
when they grow up:

teacher (like you Ms. Lake)
monkey trainer
pizza taster
video game maker
football player…

I reach the last child, Leo,
not sure if he will talk;
the thin brown-haired boy
often sits, arms hugging his legs,
his dark eyes wide and wary.

So, Leo, I say, keeping my voice
what would you like to be
when you grow up?

Safe, he says.

I sit with his answer
the rest of my life. 

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