Purple

      by Alexis Rotella

 

In first grade Mrs. Lohr

said my purple teepee

wasn’t realistic enough,

that purple was no color

for a tent,

that purple was a color

for people who died,

that my drawing wasn’t

good enough

to hang with the others.

I walked back to my seat

counting the swish swish swishes

of my baggy corduroy trousers.

With a black crayon

nightfall came

to my purple tent

in the middle

of an afternoon.

 

In second grade Mr. Barta

said draw anything;

he didn’t care what.

I left my paper blank

and when he came around

to my desk

my heart beat like a tom tom.

He touched my head

with his big hand

and in a soft voice said

the snowfall

how clean

and white

and beautiful.

 

 

This poem first appeared in East West Journal in 1980 and has since appeared in many other publications, including the first edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Copyright © Alexis Rotella. Used with permission by Alexis Rotella.