Linda Scheller

Mother of Thousands

Though I’ve borne none of them,
I’ve bored all of them
hourly, daily, or always,
though I tried to make them care
not about me, but for themselves.

In our one year together,
I tried to leave a good impression
of learning and kindness,
and with their chalk dust siblings
we shared cafeteria food, 
a few good laughs, fear
and our diminishing innocence.

Some of them, years later,
I have seen buried
while their real mothers screamed
and those who were left 
standing among chrysanthemums
moved toward me with tears
streaming down their stubble
or ruining their makeup.

For the first time then
I held them in my arms
as they wept and trembled
and asked the teacher why
and I could only say, 
I’m sorry.
I don’t know.