Broken Flower
(or Problem In The Car Line)

By Theodore Richards

emails sent
discussions had
about the problem
the delay
in the car line at school pick-up

why do you take so long to come out?
why don’t you just come down right away
like your sister
like the other kids?

but then you arrive
tall & proud & smiling & indifferent
to time & discussions & emails & car lines
a flower in your hand
bent & broken

my flower was broken,
you explain,
& i was trying to fix it.

(i remember, at that moment, a woman in Zimbabwe who was always late to class walking up the rugged path with jug of water on her head, straight and proud:
she could never be late for a class that couldn’t start without her; she could learn any lesson we were trying to teach except for the one we were really teaching: how to buy and sell her time.)

my flower was broken,
& i was trying to fix it.

& i realize the yours was a greater problem
than a backed-up car line
than anywhere I have to go
than any email a teacher might send
than really all the important things people do all day.

i realize
that as long as you can hold a broken flower in your hand
your heart
as long as you can hold the broken things of this world
even when they are beyond repair
that you will always come to me
straight & strong & unbroken.
and we can all wait for that.

About The Author

Theodore Richards
Theodore Richards is an educator, writer, and philosopher. He is the founder of The Chicago Wisdom Project now and editor of the online magazine and podcast ReImagining. His work is dedicated to re-imagining education and creating new narratives about our place in the world. He has received degrees from various institutions, including the University of Chicago and The California Institute of Integral Studies, but has learned just as much studying the martial art of Bagua; teaching in various settings and students; and as a traveler from the Far East to the Middle East, from southern Africa to the South Pacific. He is the author of eight books and numerous literary awards, including two Nautilus Book Awards and three Independent Publisher Awards. His latest book, Reimagining the Classroom, launched in December of 2022. He lives on the south side of Chicago with his wife and three daughters. For more information, go to


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