Friday, April 24, 2020

I Wanted To Sing

That morning, I wanted to sing
to my students, full of feeling
about ancient voices
that were showing us
how much we are alike.
I don’t remember the song
that had such tidal pull
I wanted to share it.

How little has changed.

We wrote poems together,
combed Sappho’s fragments
for their meaning and messages
and with only two weeks time
ourselves, ripped our own poems
apart to see what still breathed
in the pieces.

We glued our sea-drift words
to blocks, built up and tore down
poems over and over again
to see what we could lift
from the wreckage.

Their senior year voices
bubbled like the secrets
of Tu Fu or Issa:

I only wanted everything,
all you have to offer —

My soul is heavy
I’m alive

I didn’t sing that day.
How could I?
It was the end of homeroom,
drone of announcements,
the pledge of allegiance,
lunch orders —
patty melt or fish sub?

They would think it
out of place, my song.
I took a coward’s silence.
I groan for this.
But what can I do?

How much I wanted
to give them,
any handful of seashells
or polished glass, sand
passed through fingers.

How little has changed:

My soul is heavy
I’m alive.

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