Teaching High School English provided a wealth of experiences for me, like when the principal tore down my display of my students’ poetry because it didn’t rhyme and heaven-forbid there was a profane word on one of them! I refrained from walking out of the school that day because I thought about the students, and the chances that it seemed only I gave them.
There was this Mexican boy, Danny, who signed up for my journalism class, my poetry class, even my Irish History class, and he excelled at all of them. He became my go-to reporter, my best photographer, a great poet, and he always brought me these jalapeño suckers that I just couldn’t bring myself to try.
One day, Danny wasn’t there, and one of our police officers told me they found him that morning in the middle of the street, in a pool of his own blood with his head completely smashed but they assured me no drugs or theft was involved. The local news came to me and I told him about what an amazing talent he was (–the word was hurt) and I went to visit him a few times with hundreds of cards from his friends, but he was in a coma for 39 days, and they wouldn’t let me in.
Danny can’t function on his own, he can’t write anymore, he can’t hold a camera, he can’t feed himself, but the guy they caught running from the scene got 18 months in a minimum security facility with time off for good behavior.