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Original artwork by Katie M. Zeigler

Here’s to Many More, Mrs. Cottrell

Nathan Nicolau

I owe my

life to my

mother, but I

owe my career

to Mrs. Cottrell,

the self-proclaimed

wicked witch of

fourth-grade teachers.

I just learned

how to spell

my last name

and here she

comes staring me

down with her

wide red eyes

asking me why

my poem about

the Titanic sinking

didn’t rhyme and

I said I

couldn’t find anything

that rhymed with

“sunked” (and no

one corrected me

until high school)

and her chameleon

eyes whizzed around,

her tongue swishing

that I’ll never

see next year.

Well, it’s a

another night in

my apartment with

my wife and

our baby and

my two cats,

and I need

to wake up

early to go

teach college freshmen,

who wince at

the name “literature,”

the why of

poetry instead of

the how. See

you next year.