They Buried Sherman Today

They Buried Sherman Today

I was taking roll and marking names,

but Twanna wasn't there.

I knew she'd come to school. Then left?  

So I asked if they knew where.

"A family funeral," someone said.  

"They're burying Sherman Reeves."

Sudden tears streaked down my face.  

I said, "Oh no!  God, Please!"

All grew quiet in the room

as I tried to get control.

I hurt as pain sliced through my heart

and bone deep anguish rolled.

I said, "I'm sorry." as I choked

and swiped across my face.

"Sherman was my student once."  

My conduct a disgrace.

Teachers aren't supposed to care

and cry when someone dies.

I glanced around the room and saw

understanding and surprise.

"His daddy died that year and I

tried to help Pip make it through."

When they heard me use his nickname,

the kids knew that it was true.

"My Lord," I said, "He was just a child!  

What was he?  Twenty-three?"

Someone nodded, another said,

"He was shot dead on the street."

The thing that I remember best

is his bright and sunny smile.

They say he really trashed his life,

he was loose and bad and wild.

But see?  Inside my head are things

that no one ever knew,

Like the time he whispered to me,

"Do drunk men go to Heaven too?"

For nine short months I taught that boy

and tried to leave a mark.

Who knew his future loomed ahead

so sad, so bleak, so dark?

Sherman would empty trash for me

and stayed close by my side,

Because he had that gaping void

after his daddy died.

I see that frightened little boy

who was such a precious child.

I wanted to make an impact,

but only had him for a while.

Music: Breathless

Author's Notes/Comments: 

Sometimes my job breaks my heart.

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Joan Bazil's picture

This verse hits in the gut and makes me glad to live in a county where the gun culture, though not absent - a small boy was accidentally killed in a drugs turf shooting in my town a couple of years ago - is not so prevalent. I agree with the previous comment that teachers can and do cry, though it must have made you feel very exposed to break down (or feel like breaking down) in front of the youngsters. So sad.

"And when the black thread breaks, the weaver shall look into the whole cloth, and he shall examine the loom also."
(from Kahil Gibran's 'The Prophet')

Douglas Lazard's picture

Jessica, So sorry for your loss!... I know that it is rough on teachers, when they find out that one of their students has passed away... For whatever reason! It is your calling, to invest time and effort and caring into your students... So I know that one who cares as much as you do about others, must take it pretty hard. May God give you peace in your heart at this time.

Peace and love ~~~~ Dougie ~~

kat's picture

Jessica, this is so so sad, I know better than to ask if it's true. The tears are just rolling down my face. As for your 'conduct' being a disgrace, I think not. Some kids don't get enough lovin and least all those kids know there IS a teacher who cares. I think you should share this with Sherman's famly.
Excellent, excellent job. AAA++++ for the teacher!