Point to the shackles I have
clicked over around
you, the attack I’ve waged
on the isthmus of grace
where you find no threat
no fear, no infamy so great
as a teacher. Tell me,
this B, this letter, this
scrap of the time I put
into loving you, is that
reason enough to hate?
Would the gods strike me dead
that I mark you contrary
to your prediction, that I would weigh
the truths and plot
against you, hand you
a goat instead of gold. Do you think
this letter is all you are?
I should tell you, just in case–
I have grades for more. I have marks
for the furtive light in the smile you sneak
after homeroom, the wry ambivalence
you rehearse in your tone,
letters for the looks you flash like
morse code across the classroom,
letters for emails
clocked at eleven thirty, for emails
never sent, and
for the hope you have lost
to talk to me like this.
Point to the shackles.
Suffer is a synonym
when we take the Buddhist
stance. Experience is
the flip side of innocence
and you are dancing
on the tightrope between
the two: neither child, nor adult.
I know this.
To think that I
have pasted up
my pinched compassion
as tiny tiles
on the mosaic of everyone else
and left you out
This world is full of potential:
the fat packet you’ll get from that
college whose name you value
more than the knowledge you’ll
earn in the time between classes
the way you do here when you talk about
troubles like me.
Step back. Unlatch the lock
to the panic room. You are perfect
precisely because of this pain.
Although it feels like you are waterboarded
thumbscrewed, martryred and whipped, look
at how the tables have flipped. The power
is yours: kindess or cruelty. You are free.
Pull off the shackles.
The power is yours: silence or speech.
The power is yours: A or B.
The power is yours: doubt or belief.
Life is no scantron, no set of essay corrections.
This score is a drift of the continent
you will become.
Talk to me. Respectfully.
Talk to me. I’ve been listening.