Wherever you are, there is always a giraffe

after Judy Johnson


Cool as a whale

Mrs Haydon is stepping backwards through water


patient with this small giraffe

who has failed at every sport


all neck and skittery hooves,

large-eyed, patterned with shame.


The giraffe goes down, commanding her eyes

to snap open, kicking the way she has been taught


trying to blow the textbook bubbles

one two three and turn her fine neck


to gasp, so loudly it hurts her ears,

the air that saves her life


for another moment. Again

with fight-or-flight desperation, again


with Mrs Haydon’s voice playing in her head

straight legs, lift your tummy


and her own voice too, screaming at herself to do it, do it


until her legs burn, her nostrils choke,

the certificate floats farther away than Africa


and she knows she will die here, now,

her ears awash with plughole terror


and a fury of incompetence

pounding in her head like a hoofbeat.


Wherever I am, there is always a giraffe,

asking if it’s worse to drown, or fail.

Grade 9 and 10 students in Assistant Principal Mr. Steven Figg’s elective Creative Writing class explored activities from the Cabinet of Lost and Found learning resource. They completed the core activity of a poem inspired by a talismanic object and crafted several other poems. Students showcased their writing and presented it to a public audience in late May.