Mark Center

It was Mrs. Donson, I think,
all cat-eye glasses and spindly limbs,
she of the stern stare of a
fourth-grade teacher
in a tomb of a town called
Mark Center,

yes, it was she who told us of
Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain;
it was she what baptized us into the faith
of celebrated jumping frogs,
and child prophets named
Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.

Not that we weren’t willing acolytes;
we were simple country kids,
farmers’ and factory workers’ children;
caught bull frogs in the boggy remnants
of the Great Black Swamp;
ran barefoot on muddy creek shores;
swam in chocolate water;
fished and trapped and hunted;
Tom and Huck spoke in tongues
that tickled our ears
and sounded a lot like home.

She told us how Mark Twain
was a river term for sounding depth,
a pseudonym, new vocabulary word,
spelling counts.

My aha moment:
Mark Center
must be the center of something!
That’s a good topic for research,
please prepare a one-page report for Monday,
spelling counts.

Eighteen daggers in my back
from classmates’ eyes,
stupid curiosity,
we were ‘spostah’ go fishin’,
now we gotta write a stupid report,
can’t leave well enough alone.

But there was the blotch
on the plat
that dad pulled out for me that night,
Mark Township,
six miles by six miles of
flat squares,
of corn, soy bean, wheat,
cows, pigs and sheep,
and at the center of it all,
not quite geometrically,
but close enough for horseshoes,
was Mark Center,
unincorporated community,
center of my nine-year-old universe,
pseudonym for nowhere.


About stevenddorsey

I have been an avid writer for as long as I can remember. I enjoy composing poetry, lyrics, children's books and fiction for young adults. I have traveled the world extensively in my 25+ year career as an International Development professional and executive. I have lived in Europe, Latin America, and Africa. I speak Spanish and French. I married Rachel Miltimore in 1985. We have five children and five grandchildren. We currently live in Manassas, Virginia. We enjoy writing children's books together.
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