is the author of Fierce Light (FutureCycle Press,) a book of persona poetry in the imagined voices of 36 historic women. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Notre Dame Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Hawai’i Pacific Review, Poem, Lockdown Literature, West Trade Review, Teach. Write., and Connecticut River Review, among others. Ms. Scheller is a founding board member of the Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center. Her website is lindascheller.com.
Mohawk School, 1965
The Russian girl in the picture wore a headscarf
above a white blouse with embroidered sleeves.
She stood in a wheat field smiling down
at the sheaves she held in her arms.
The teacher appeared at my elbow. Her finger
stabbed the photograph. That is propaganda.
She shut the book and yanked it from my desk.
Then we practiced math problems with money,
wrote an essay on the Indian wars, read aloud
“Little Black Sambo,” and marched in place
singing patriotic songs.
Metal curlers with plastic spikes
stabbed our scalps as we lay in bed
dreaming of true love and marriage.
Our parents shared one bed, but on TV
the husband addressed his robed wife
across the gulf separating twin beds.
Donna wore slacks on a non-gym day.
Miss Copping sent her home to change
and told her to stop that silly crying.
In a white room filled with ovens,
ironing boards, and sewing machines,
we learned basic domestic servitude.
Behind the abandoned train station,
we learned our bodies were the match
that lit boys, the flame of engagement.
Potential husbands and good providers
drew back and whispered let’s wait
even as we stood in the snow, burning.