Skiers Enrolled in Public Schools by Linda Imbler

The littles one stand quietly,
gather them,
all the little ones,
herd them up high on the mountain,
sheep and goats,
herd them up to the top,
hurry, hurry because
the race must begin.

Hurry, hurry up the mountain.
They must march with longer strides
than shorter legs can manage.
Breathless they become,
confused, dreading the race,
fear standing in wide eyes,
dripping tears freezing on faces.
Strap them on skis, but bind their arms,
blindfolds put into place,
hurry, hurry the race must begin.

Hand them tickets which they cannot read,
with messages meant for more developed minds.
Face them away from the center
then push them off.
All struggle to stay on skis meant for larger feet.
Most are crushed in the avalanche of expectations,
others hit trees and are stopped cold
and cold they stay, still and cold.
Some refuse to go down at all.
They seat themselves on crossed legs
and speak no more.
Others cross the finish line on shaking legs
and the count should be of concern.
There are too few,
and their victory is hollow.

Blame is laid at the feet of none.
No one claims failure of those strewn across the snowy landscape.
No one cries out against this mockery
nor prays for the fallen.
And those who ran the course
stand with their tickets clutched in their hands,
tickets to nowhere.