for Lesa MacFarland, Daniel Lucas, and Kate Sweely
There was an empty desk in class today.
(At breakfast the newspaper bent back like a
bird’s broken wing) I don’t take roll,
so I had to ask “who’s not here?”
(not thick enough to hold a thing aloft,
a slate-colored sheet.)
No one said a word.
(I snapped the paper back into place.
Esther S. had died) “Who’s not here?”
I asked again, and (of age.
Just age. Sometimes people just get old.)
no one said a word.
“Someone’s brother? Sister?
“Sometimes people just get old,”
I said. “Edward Norton Lorenz
was ninety,” I said. (But Taylor R.
was seventeen, I knew, younger still than
Urysohn, Galois and Ramanujan.
Seventeen years is hardly time enough
to eat too-dry toast or get wet
while waiting in the rain for the bus to come.)
No one said a word,
and we soon moved on, as we always do,
wings cupped over the wind, wings just thick
enough to keep us off the ground.
We huddled our desks around
the empty one, (I stood and brushed away
the crumbs of too-dry toast. I looked
for my car keys.)
a hole like the eye of a storm.
Monday, July 04, 2011