I drive to a library on a rough block of my city
where I sit in a large, well-lit room with long, rectangular tables
there are Saturdays where no one shows up
and I read or play with my phone or talk to my partner
if he’s around
most of the time we get a few kids who walk in with their mothers
requesting help with homework
which I am glad to oblige
since this is Homework Club, afterall
some of these kids are skinny, some are talkative, some want to be there, some don’t, some are quiet, some are overweight, some are serious, some are funny
some of their mothers drop them off and return later
some sit around and wait
some mothers talk to me
some bring me small gifts once in a while
One mom tells me she dropped out after eight grade
so she can’t help her son with his fifth grade math.
her son who is sitting across from us quietly reading an article about matter and its three states
another tells me she has been in America for a decade
and is embarrassed she hasn’t learned more English.
Only once I had a father drop off his two girls.
total jokesters who asked me a million questions every chance they could
in order to get out of doing their homework
one of the girls was named after a pop star.
Two hours later their Dad returned
while he waited for his daughters to pack away their notebooks and pencils
i studied him like he was one of the word problems his daughter just struggled with ten minutes prior
he was about my size
brown hair that roller coastered atop his head
in an endless succession of loops
yellow and black t-shirt
green eyes and thick tufts of hair
above his knuckles
just below where his fingers bent.