When Mount St. Helens erupted
in the spring of 1980, I made much of it,
telling my first-grade classmates in Minnesota
how close we’d lived to that mountain —
not true at all, but I needed something
to secure myself as something other than
the new kid, having gone through days and days
of crying over math worksheets, how many pennies
to buy a whistle, how many pink erasers for a quarter?
Anyway, the drama of a disaster was useful
in crafting my new persona at age 7,
and also, I dabbled in meanness, one time
telling a boy who asked me how to spell electricity
that it was E-L-L-E-E-T-T-T-R-I-C-I-T-T-Y,
causing (once he realized) a disastrous fury
of erasing on that cheap paper they gave us.
One thing I can’t remember is if it was him or me
who drew Mount St. Helens, a better-than-stick-figure
man falling off the top; probably there was lava, too.
12 (to be explained)