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The Science of Seventh Grade

Lynnell Edwards


My son is talking and I am

typing and we are getting all

the facts down we can

about the Arctic Tundra. Like:

it is covered year round

by frozen soil called permafrost, sometimes

fifteen hundred feet deep. And:

it is the youngest biome, formed

just ten thousand years ago. And:

the Arctic fox is a primary consumer,

also the polar bear, their chief source

of food being the collared lemming,

warm orb of  mammal shown here,

cradled in the scientist’s soft palms.

And we agree: it is hard

to be a lemming in the Arctic Tundra,

scrambling at the bottom

of the food chain, only partially

hidden by the low Arctic scrub,

the Tundra perennials

that bloom and spray their glory

for just a few months before exiting

a moonscape of permafrost

(sometimes fifteen hundred feet deep),

dark outcroppings of rock.

Seventh grade is hard. The hazard

of algebraic equation, trick

of thesis statement, locker combination.

Even to find the right book

at exactly the right time

is a risk. Better to carry

it all in a pack, scurry bent

and huffing through seething halls

to the next safe place, find a seat

near the window, slump low,

and keep an eye on the far horizon

where a teacher has been asking questions

for ten thousand years, the same

frozen fate chained down and down.

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