Standing in Classrooms


Standing in classrooms,
Often in mid-lesson,
I become unexpectedly aware of the difference:
The strength of their bodies' certainty,
A supple insistence in restive limbs
Or the indifferent sensuousness of half-sandaled feet,
Sometimes, too, it is their imperfections that remind me:
The defeated hesitations,
Tics,
Or some great scarlet blemish
Writing its impatient growth across
An unfinished face.

I am not old,
But I hear their voices change when I enter
And often misperceive the reasons
For their bright, inviting spills of laughter.
There is a "we" in their conversation
That unnerves one's sense of permanence.

Still, from time to time they come,
Confessing some small anxious confidence
That I find hard to understand,
Except to sense in it my half-forgotten fears
Or unfounded seriousness.
This alone seems our exchange.

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