You sat in the back row of my classroom,
Nylon ‘rag tightly protecting your ‘do
(Probably an intricate braiding some
Young woman created. I knew you
Wouldn’t show it here, my room unworthy).
Your eyes were bored, your aspect so distant
Your manner said, “You say I have to be
Here. Here I am. But I need nothing, man,
From you. There is nothing you can teach me.”
I could not meet the challenge of your gaze;
I teach around rhyming and story.
But my eyes met those eyes, that look, for days.
And, then, on Friday, when class is dismissed,
A grin transforms your face, and I feel kissed.
I linger, old and tired and weak; the cold
Has made a home within my hollow bones.
Yet the sun dangles fat, burning like gold,
And the breeze brings all the turtledove’s tones,
The smells of suckle, onion and black earth.
The tree tops quiver green and full of young.
Babies gamboling through their brand-new world
Make me remember when I was so young
I thought the world was mine and mine alone.
But now my power wanes. (My span died first,
Wider than I –wilder?—it wearied soon.)
Now my old, throbbing bird’s heart’s fit to burst.
Finally bald, I see my last feather
Fall. I close my eyes to dream of fire.