When the new principal
under the direction
of the educational
asks you to train
your minimum-wage replacement
and the local papers
praise all the “reforms”
and even your friends
move to the suburbs and believe
the brown skin of the children you teach
must be avoided,
when your Saturdays
buying used books for those children
and the darkening afternoons
putting those books away
so they can check them out again
seem a lost, wasted life,
remember your walk
to and from school
through the downtown
that’s still your downtown
and the way your students
wrap their arms around your leg
when they see you on the street
and how the older ones
from years before—
even, sometimes, the boys—
hug you in Market Basket
or at the Halloween Parade
and pronounce your name
wrong, like they used to,
and then tell you
what books they’ve been reading.
J.D. Scrimgeour is the author of the poetry collections The Last Miles and Territories, and he won the AWP Award for Nonfiction for Themes For English B: A Professor’s Education In & Out of Class. With musician Philip Swanson he released Ogunquit & Other Works, a CD blending music and poetry. His third poetry collection, Lifting the Turtle (Turning Point), will appear in November 2017.
I'm standing in the wind.
We had five years left to cry,
stay in, get things done.
The wordy gurdy stands
quiet in the middle of my head;
missing pieces [with just enough
shine] rubber-banded tog-
Back then, when she rose
from her beach chair, the weave imprinted itself
on the backs of her jiggly thighs.
Who would have carried it this far,
up the crest between watersheds,
then quit before the downhill?
This was your domain.
Pocket jingling a handful of brads, flat pencil behind your ear,
you’d bore through the browsers; pay and go.
When you rose from the sea
the crown of your head
touched the clouds
A conveyor belt delivers mutton and fowl.
Hot meringues suffer and collapse
under my ruthless fork.
His breath tripped over words stuck between his teeth
and tongue as sinewy shoulders curved.
The child stood, small, shivering in her tattered brown coat,
a dented, scuffed brown suitcase gripped in her hand.
mushrooms, beets, carrots, cabbage,
uncle’s ashen face.