I can’t remember exactly what his teacher said by Katie Richards

but I remember the knot in my stomach as I tried to hold it together in the narthex as my mother asked me what was wrong and I said James’ preschool teacher who is also his Sunday School teacher was noticing what I had been noticing and just told me and I remember the quick walk out to the car that brisk November morning the shock of the sky’s cornflower blue against the brown of the dying grass and hurrying to buckle the kids into their car seats to avoid a scene and I remember my mother actually buckled up James while I buckled up Claire and how my mother leaned in her soft hair brushing his forehead and kissed James’ head and I remember wondering why this, God? why my little boy? and then the brush of my mother’s foundation on my shoulder as I hugged her in the parking lot the knot of her autumn scarf the ends curved in a hole through her orange and red leaf pin the edges of the pin hard against my chest the look of confusion on my father’s face as he came out looking for us and I remember my mother asking do you need me? and I could only nod yes and I remember her telling my father she would skip Sunday School that day and come home with me instead and then the crying my crying in the car and then the tears her tears smudging her blush as she sat in the gray chair in our living room while we watched James and Claire play how she said he is beautifully and wonderfully made and how we would be there for him and how blessed we were to have him in our lives just as he is and I remember he was playing with his toy kitchen but not pretending to drink out of the cups just stacking and restacking them and I tried to get him to pretend but he just stacked and restacked them again and again and again

Katie Richards is an MFA candidate at George Mason University. She is the recipient of the 2016 Mark Craver Poetry Award and the 2020 Mary Roberts Rinehart Poetry Award. Her poetry has previously appeared in the South Dakota Review and Tipton Poetry Journal and is forthcoming in the North Dakota Quarterly and Cider Press Review.

Photo by Hanson Lu

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