On Finding an Obituary for My Sixth-Grade Teacher by Meredith Davies Hadaway

for Mrs. Slover

I imagine you still at your desk, a little 
sweaty as you always were, reading aloud 
to us each morning instead of silent prayer. 

Gravel-voiced, a blonde from Northern Italy, 
you were tough, demanding, even brutal
in your honest way. No time for coddling 

or excuses. We adored you. Awkward,
shy, class clown, stutterer, or swaggerer—you gave 
us each an equal shot at sixth-grade greatness.

I used to remember the names of all my teachers, 
the way some can recite the U.S. Presidents 
in order. Teachers were their own branch 

of government—dictators. The names are mostly
gone—and now I learn that you’ve been dead 
since 1989. Still I feel your benediction. 

As summer neared, our closing exercise was 
the Class Prophecy. We never dreamed how many 
would go to Vietnam or die of AIDS, but saw 

instead the statesmen, lawyers, movie stars we 
thought we’d all become. No teachers. In our 
minds, we would never climb that high. 

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