Excerpt of The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky
(Page 3 of 5)
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"Wait!" boomed Miss Renshaw as they reached the edge of
the street. "Do not cross until I say so!"
Cars rolled by. A dog was barking. They bumped together
on the footpath, waiting.
"Stand still so I can count you," said Miss Renshaw. "Have
we lost anyone?"
Across the road above their heads rose the tangled fence,
with swirling metal words painted in gold in the shape of an
arch. A glistening spiderweb dangled down from the M of
Memorial. Miss Renshaw held her hand up in the air, her long
fingers waving like pale streamers.
"Ten, eleven. Bethany, your hat is dirty. Elizabeth yes,
you, Elizabeth pull up your socks. Cubby, your shoelaces are
coming undone. I don't expect to take such grubby little girls
into a public place. Remember why you are here."
Why were they here? They frowned at one another. Oh,
yes, to think about death. . . .
"Look both ways and cross carefully."
Cubby bent down to tie her laces. With her head upside
down, she caught sight of the water through the fence and the
greenery, patches of the great Pacific Ocean rolling in icy steelgray
waves, beyond all the yachts and ferries and rowboats, on
through Sydney Harbor, on and on all the way to Tahiti, all the
way to the Sandwich Isles, thought Cubby, where Captain Cook
sailed on his little boat and was eaten up.
"Wait for me, Icara!" shouted Cubby, straightening up,
seeing Icara skip across the road through the warm, purplesmelling
air. She could feel her lace was still undone but there
was no time to stop and fix it now.
"Icara! Cubby! Stay together!" called Miss Renshaw after
Wait for me.
Into the Beautiful Garden
They all knew, even tiny, big-eyed Bethany knew, the real
reason Miss Renshaw wanted to go out into the gardens that
morning. It was not to think about death. Miss Renshaw wanted
to see Morgan.
Morgan worked in the gardens. They had met him there
one day when they arrived with pencils and sheets of blank
paper to do drawings of leaves for natural science class. Morgan
had been sitting under the great, creaking fig tree by the seawall,
his back against the trunk, his eyes closed, smoking a cigarette.
"Like Buddha under the banyan tree," said Miss Renshaw
later, "waiting for enlightenment."
Was it enlightenment? Or was it the noise of the children
that made Morgan open his eyes? He had beautiful eyes soft,
brown, wet with tears, like a stuffed toy. He stubbed out his
cigarette and stood up, tall in his muddy boots, blue shirt and
trousers, and a floppy gray hat.
"Good morning, ladies," he said, putting his hand to his
The little girls wandered away. They were not interested in
Morgan. But Miss Renshaw was. She leaned against the seawall
with him, and they looked out at the Pacific Ocean and Morgan
told her all about himself. Morgan worked in the Ena Thompson
Memorial Gardens, mowing the lawns, pulling out weeds,
planting flowers, trimming bushes, sweeping paths, cutting
branches from the trees, keeping the water of the duck pond
and its wedding-cake fountain clear of weeds.
Morgan was a poet as well as a gardener, Miss Renshaw
told them later, when they had returned to the classroom.
"I knew he was a poet," Miss Renshaw said, "before he even
opened his mouth to say good morning."
"How did you know?" asked Georgina curiously.
Miss Renshaw didn't say. She just knew. Miss Renshaw
"And even more than poetry, I love poets," avowed Miss
Renshaw. "The person who has said 'My life is to make poetry'
is a brave person."
"Why brave?" asked the tallest Elizabeth.
"Because poets are poor," said Miss Renshaw.
"Why are they poor?"
Excerpted from The Golden Day
by Ursula Dubosarsky. Copyright © 2013 by Ursula Dubosarsky.
Excerpted by permission of Candlewick Press. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.