I am standing in front of the blackboard, my arms sticking out in front of me, my hands balled up into fists. “I am holding,” I say, “in just one of my hands,” I add, and pause, I sigh, all for dramatic effect, “something very magical.”
“I bet it’s pencil,” a boy calls out from the back of the room. Good guess.
“A penny,” a second voice says.
“Is it a marble?”
“You’re getting closer,” I say.
This game of give and take, this game of call and response, goes on—I let it go on—for another some minutes before I kneel down in front of them and invite them to come huddle up close.
I blow my breath three times inside my right hand and just as slowly I fold open my fingers to the stone (blue, smooth, solid) that I’ve been holding inside it for the past ten minutes. It is warm, with the heat of my own blood beating inside it, as if inside it there is a heart. My heart.
“It’s a stone,” a voice in this still-huddled crowd of eight-and-nine-year-olds cries out. “It’s a blue stone,” someone else calls out its color. “It’s smooth,”
“It’s hard.” “Just like Mr. Pete’s head.”
“What if I asked you what was in the inside of this stone,” I say. “Who thinks they know what’s on the inside of a stone?”
We talk a bit about the possibility of this: is it possible to know what’s on the inside of a stone? We can’t see inside a stone.
“Maybe there’s a poem inside the stone,” so says a girl with poems I know living inside her, just like there are things—clouds, flowers, boats, and yes, even fish—living inside their hearts.
I have seen inside their hearts. I have been taken, through poetry, by poetry, inside their child hearts.