Kind Dove Sky

Paul W. Hankins

The Monday blackboard reads:
“Describe the sky –”
the simplest of tasks
for the accomplished writer –

blue lines contained in word clouds
sun orange sprinkled effect streaking
waiting rains remember when they hailed
and ruled the green the flower the river

but for the Wednesday writer,
in the desk brand new,
writing tablet and pencil sharpened,
it almost always sounds forced – for example:

It's a kind of sky
like God twisted and twirled it up blue and pink
on a paper cone and handed it to me
to eat on a bench by the Ferris wheel
and I wipe clouds from the corners
of my mouth with sticky hands.

or worse yet, if the reader will allow
for the child who has read
or has been read to:

It's a kind of sky
where cherubim wear clouds for dresses
and rainbow barrettes pin angel hair behind ears
listening for the songs of birds
who have forgotten the hymns
they were taught so they whistle
praises into thin air.

So, you see the problem –
this leaving of prompts regarding the sky –
left on blackboards for responses by children:

It’s always reduced to poetry and image;

The child should know a reverence
of space and atmosphere by rote,
through choral recitation,
a mentor text of the Maker
that would sound like this:

It was a kind dove sky
reminding us of when we could fly
and blue was not reeling
but a becoming one with a feeling
of owning for ourselves once again
what we gave away to angels and has since
been called Heaven.

It begs the question:

What on earth are we teaching?

And what am I to do,
if I am ever going to teach this way,
when I lift my head heavenward
and see nothing – nothing –
but kind-ofs
in the sky above?