Poetry: Amy Forstadt’s “What My Son Learns”

My son learns to read
in school. His teachers are calm and cold.
They teach him words like contrarian
but not denier. Alleged not false.
Alt-right not wrong.

My son learns math. His teachers smile
when they’re furious.
They show him two plus two
equals five. And how division
matters most of all.

My son learns art. His teachers give him all white crayons
and tell him the rest are broken.
They say “good job”
when he turns in his paper, blank.

My son learns science. His teachers insist
that gravity is a lie.
They stomp hard against the earth
until everyone understands
that science is not power, but power is a science.

The other children don’t talk anymore.
They’re confused. They’re wrong
every time. Their voices flutter
halfway out and stop.

But not my son.
He saves his words all day. Tucks them in his socks. Hides
them under his shirt.
Stuffs them in his pockets like candy.

He comes home from school, points out the window.
Says, “Beak, feathers, wing.”
Says, “Bipedal, vertebrate, plumage.”
Says, “Soar, scarlet, song.”
I’m so proud. His silent mother.
My son knows a bird when he sees one.
My boy can fly.


Amy Forstadt’s poetry and fiction have appeared in Pif, Entropy, Anti-Heroin Chic, and 300 Days of Sun. Additional writing credits include Disney Online Originals, Nickelodeon, The Hub, and Animal Planet. She lives in Los Angeles with her son and two insane cats.

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  1. “Tucks them in his socks… Stuffs them in his pockets like candy.” I love this. Reminds me of someone who still did this at 57, the collector of ideas and twigs. He would have been 60 today. Thank you for this. It made me cry– for the loss of him as he lost his mind and for the loss of my country as it goes insane.

  2. I am comforted by the fact that another mother is angered by the ignorance our children face daily.
    Your poetry is beautiful.
    I’m proud to know that we share a bit of DNA.

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