Three children stood below a tree
That sprouted fruit abundantly;
They sought to seize the luscious fruit,
These hungry children in pursuit.

One child could reach the middle height,
One the lowest, to her delight,
But one, alas, stretched up in vain—
The prize was too high to obtain.

The first I showed how he could build
A ladder since he was so skilled;
He, thus, could reach the very top,
Where hung the choicest of the crop.

The second wasn’t quite so keen,
Yet she could surely reach the mean;
A stepstool gave her middle range,
Which was a rather useful change.

The last it seemed was dullest yet,
But much good comes from grit and sweat;
So, I showed him he could use a box
To reach the fruit tree’s lowest stocks.

Now all attained the fruit they craved,
A fate my own instruction paved.
They smiled, they laughed, they ate content,
With no complaint or cause to vent.

But as they dined, a man came by,
Who shook his head and asked me why
The fruit they ate was not the same—
The lack of fairness was a shame!

I was confused about this gripe,
Which seemed, at first, no more than tripe,
For I had taught each to fulfill
Their dreams based on specific skill.

But to this man named Ed Ucratt,
Instruction shouldn’t work like that:
“For each child to gain different heights,
“Violates their basic rights.”

The third child overheard this rant,
Spat out his food and said, “I can’t
Abide the taste of fruit so low—
I claim it where the topmost grow!”

The first child blushed red, stopped his chew—
To enjoy such fruit was wrong, he knew;
He gave his to the latter boy,
Who took the gift with little joy.

The second, meanwhile, shook her head:
“I’ve worked hard for this fruit,” she said,
And rising from the spot she sat,
She stormed off, without looking back.

The first child followed after her,
Preaching such greed was impure;
The third went, too, with upturned palms,
Demanding more of tree-born alms.

With the man and I left alone,
He smiled at this discord he’d sown,
Then built a fence around the tree,
With a sign reading “Equity.”

Now at the tree this man stands guard,
Passing out fruit without regard
For what the claimant’s hand has earned—
It matters not, where he’s concerned.

The top fruit will fall off and rot,
The middle fruit does not get caught,
But when each gets an equal share,
He feels society is fair.

But as I watch this Equitree,
The children there, it seems to me,
If all share in the lowest fruit,
Is such pedagogy astute?

Shouldn’t we want the best to gain
The topmost fruit? If we constrain
Them to what thinkers think is “just,”
The branches of our tree will bust.

 

Ron L. Hodges is an English teacher and poet who lives in Orange County, California. His works have appeared in The Road Not Taken, Ancient Paths, Calvary Cross, and The Society of Classical Poets Journal 2015 and 2016. He won the Society’s prestigious Annual Poetry Competition in 2016.

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2 Responses

  1. Poetry dilettante

    Bravo! This is the sort of poetry that I look forward to reading with my son or daughter. It both delights and instructs! Thank you.

    Reply

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