“Schoolgirl Doing Homework,” oil on canvas, by Albert Anker, 1879.

by Jennifer Gennari

I want to be president
she says unprompted.
Her unfinished writing task
lies on the table between us.
How many bedrooms
are in the White House?

Many I say and remember
she told me about her shared
triple bunk bed
with a sister on top
and baby brother below.
She eats animal crackers
in quick careful bites.

Why? I ask. We both look
around the tutor center,
as if the answer is airborne.
Her small fingers twist
around the pencil.
Then she looks at me straight.
So people are afraid of me,
especially mean kids.

I let the silence go
as long as I can
before I ask her
to write another
sentence, pretending
it matters as much
as the one spoken.

omega man

Jennifer Gennari holds a MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her poems have appeared in GlassFire Magazine and numerous issues of the Marin Poetry Center Anthology. She is the author of My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2012), a 2013 Bank Street Best Children’s Books of the Year and American Library Association Rainbow List title. Find her @JenGenn and at jengennari.com.