Substitute Teacher

by Susana H. Case

I was nineteen in Ohio.
Mornings, the phone rang with my assignment.
I’d run down the hill to catch the bus—

a different school most mornings—
clutching a bag of M&M’s for lunch.
Principals said, just keep the students quiet.

Poor Maurice—same size as me,
but mentally a six-year-old—all deficits
and constant movement,

master of the intrusive touch.
Maurice pleaded, he had to use the bathroom.
I said no.

He peed all over himself.
The class finished the day pointing
and laughing. He sat there in the wet and cried.

I cried too. I went home, still crying.
Next morning, I ran back down the hill, headed
for another school, searching for the right bus.