Down the creaky, wooden steps
Thirteen seconds long
Around the corner at the end of the hall
Through the doorway
Eight feet tall

Trod along the dusty sidewalk
Five song long
Across the street at the light
Under the lamppost
Twenty feet’s height

Pass the noisy, crowded market
Billboards fifty feet long
After the woman selling fake gold
Around the street urchin
Six years old

Stand in a line along the wall
Nineteen persons long
Pass the guard and through the gate
Arrive at school
Just three minutes late!

I remember walking to elementary school every morning when I lived in the Philippines.  For me, it seems like it was a very long walk.  I lived in the city and so I passed by many things along the way.  I don’t think I ever disliked it walking to school.  My mom took me, of course.  But in reality, the walk was probably no that far.

While some of the things I mentioned in this poem are made up, others, such as street urchins, the markets, billboards, and streetlights were real.  There was even an overpass, kids inhaling drugs, jaywalkers, people washing their clothes and dishes on the sidewalks, and other goings-on that you’d only see in the Philippines.

No matter how long, short, busy, dangerous, or tiresome it might have been, though, I always have good feelings when I remember those days – walking to and from school, every day…


20 thoughts on “Numbers

    • Guards at the gate of the school was a common thing in the Philippines. I don’t understand why there aren’t any here in the U.S. There are guards at hospitals and other business type buildings, but how come there aren’t any where children – who are the most vulnerable, and most precious to us – go to “work” everyday? I mean, even before school shootings were rampant here, there should have been guards at every school (not just high-class private ones). 😦


  1. Love how you’ve brought an ordinary, every day activity to life with your descriptions of the sights and sounds. I also enjoyed the numbers linking it all together – and only 3 minutes late!


  2. I enjoyed this. Probably because I am a quantifier who counts ceiling tiles in doctors’ waiting rooms, and the number of steps on stair landing and other stuff like that. Used to read the World Almanac, too, and then knew such things as the dimensions of all the details of the Statue of Liberty. Kids really DO this! Thanks for the reminder.


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