School Memories

The following poem is a triptych. It’s based on an art form that involves drawing three related pictures on three canvases side by side. The three sections of a triptych can be placed side by side in poetic form or one below the other in paragraph form. I was inspired to do mine in paragraph form after reading a diptych at . A diptych is like a triptych except it has two sections instead of three. Now, here’s my triptych.






The three-story red brick building gleams in the sunlight. On the front lawn stands a jungle gym, no swings, no merry-go-round. There can be nothing with moving parts for children might get hurt. Because of my low vision, I fell and scraped my knees many times while playing kickball on the cement play area. One girl with good eyes hurt her back when she fell off the jungle gym. Now, the cries of children fill the early fall morning air. The bell’s peel silences the din. We sixth-graders hurry to get in line so we can march into the building and begin our day.




On a foggy day with rain predicted, the yellow school bus pulls up in front of another red brick building with a playing field in back. I was never much for sports, never attended games, didn’t even try out for cheerleading, having been told, “You can’t do this because you can’t see.” I hated gym, math, science, home economics. I couldn’t throw a ball to save my soul, tell you the sum of an equation, or explain chemical compounds, couldn’t even sew. I could play the piano and sing, entertained during study hall, performed in the glee club and orchestra but didn’t earn grades where they mattered. Now as an eighth-grader, I emerge from the yellow bus, resigned to starting another day in junior high.




Several red brick buildings cluster together: a main classroom building, a science and agriculture building, a gym, and a separate building containing an auditorium, swimming pool, smaller gym, and classrooms for music, art, ROTC and other subjects. Not required to take home economics and P.E. or too much math or science, I flourished in English, literature, and other subjects I liked. Wanting to be in theater like my parents, I acted in plays, participated in the speech team, won several awards. I wanted to be a singer, was awarded second place in a talent competition, was given a standing ovation, as I marched across the stage to receive my diploma. Instead of telling me I couldn’t do it because I couldn’t see, they said, “Let’s figure out how you can do it, even though you can’t see.” Now, on a frosty September morning, my footsteps on the board walk climbing the hill resound with joy, as I approach the remaining years of my public education.



Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author


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Author: abbiejohnsontaylor

I'm the author of two novels,, two poetry collections, and a memoir with another novel on the way. My work has appeared in various journals and anthologies. I'm visually impaired and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my totally blind late husband who was paralyzed by two strokes. Please visit my website at

2 thoughts on “School Memories”

  1. I love this Abbie. Your story is the story of many who find public school fails them when it doesn’t let the individual succeed in their interests and talents, but tries to force them into roles they will never play or participate in work they weren’t meant to do. This is why it is so, so important for public education to include the Arts. Thanks for this.


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