A Teacher

Carl Boon

He’s laughing at the joke
he couldn’t tell, fiddling

with Whitman and how
it matters, finally, this room

that filters light in bars
against their faces.

This space where nothing
stays except the stare,

the unanswered question
lingering, disappearing.

He pauses. Something
in the face of a boy

in the back recalls to him
his own face years ago,

how he leapt to love, lied,
and was borne unto a boat.

They move to Hart Crane—
he moves to Hart Crane—

as the sounds in the hall
grow louder, and it is him,

youth cursing at age,
divine declaring the dying
dead at last. A girl wants
to say goodbye, another

stands at the doorway,
her knees trembling,

her wrists like Stein’s,
unready for the world.

He knows with sudden anger
it’s not him they seek

but them they’ve lost,
girls and boys spinning

past their mothers’ laps,
spinning because the world

spins, and their segments
have yet to be discouraged.