His teacher crawls under
the lunchroom table to read
with Gabriel – upside down.
She holds his attention with her
sparkly sneakers pressing the book
gently to the underside of the table.
The first three battles she chooses:
writing his name without snapping
the pencil in half; learning to trust
rules about sharing the few books
on the shelf next to the radiator
that burns every time he touches it.
Standing quietly in the recess line
won’t happen until he learns
to trust direction. Gabriel cannot tell
what has happened before
the top from the bottom, the inside
from the outside, sitting on the back
steps of a porch, or sitting at the front
of a classroom, waiting for someone