I held out my story,
A shy offering
Written with blue crayon,
On four pages of neatly folded notebook paper.
My second-grade teacher, Mrs. McDonoughue
Who I remember as a gray haired angel
In a red cardigan sweater,
Smiled and said it was a lovely book.
She’d seen through the rudimentary sentences
And disregarded the misspellings.
She skipped over the bent edges and smudge on the last page.
She did what a true reader and good listener will do,
She dove right into the deep water of the story
And swam around with her eyes open.
She praised the illustrations and asked me questions.
She encouraged me to bring her more.
Which I did,
Until there was a flimsy stack
Displayed on the corner of her wooden desk.
There is knowing that comes with living a story.
There is redemption and power in sharing a story
Particularly when in the telling
The narrative becomes less mine
And more ours.
But there is an equal power in how we choose to hear it.
How we look past the rough edges,
And listen for the heartbeat at the center of the tale.
I am grateful for Mrs. McDonoughue in her cat eye glasses.
Thankful that she would stand at the front of the class each morning
Reading aloud from Laura Ingles Wilder or Robert Frost.
I am grateful she taught me not just how to form a letter
But also how to shape a thought.
I’m grateful that she taught me the importance of listening,
And reading through to the meaning,
How to hold a story in my heart,
And give it away with gladness.
—Carrie Newcomer (2021)