Heat, intense as the fragrance of September hibiscus, fills the kindergarten classroom in the new brick school. Alphabet carpet tiles cover the floor.
Child-sized mats stacked like lonely rafts in the back of the room. A boy
rolls a blue marble from palm to palm. The curve of a smile paints his face
when our eyes exchange hello. The lights in the room are cut off, a pedestal
fan sweeps the room haltingly. The air still, flat, heavy. The children take reluctant naps, their damp faces resting on folded arms atop small round tables. What is the logic of kindergarten children napping at tables? Their teacher, Miss Kimberly, sees the question forming on my face, pulls up a chair for me at her desk.
This school was built over a landfill. There are roaches everywhere. I’ve even seen them crawling out of the kids’ lunchboxes. I have a mat for each child, but I’d never let them sleep on this floor. Miss Kimberly checks her watch. She knows I’m there to pick up several children for the speech class. Lucky you—with an office out in the trailer.
I don’t think we have any roaches out there.