If Found, Drop In Any Mail Box. Owner Will Pay Postage
– Jeanne Murray Walker
I’m grading papers in the motel room,
the teacher in me watching as my students
fumble with their keys in the lock of the world.
I crack down on the one who misspells
the minuet amount of imagination a person needs
to live well. And I give a C to the one I suspect
of telling me whatever I want: that summer is a newspaper
printed with no alphabet but pleasure. But I confess,
I feel a twinge for the one who postures,
as if he can’t imagine anyone loving him for himself.
And I admit, I cheat on the good side to help the one
who writes that he and his girl are one cell,
sliced apart by the scalpel of her parents.
When I get to the one who says
that he’s a lonely space ship flying between stars,
I put my red pen down. I could go under the knife
with him, I think, knowing that I won’t.
But let’s say this. It surprises me to find out I love them.
I’d like to tell someone, the woman in the next room, maybe,
like to spread this sweetness, to bring about some
minor good. Can I offer you this pale translation
of my students’ essays? Nothing special.
The sound of their keys turning in the lock of the world.
I drop it as I close the door, in case you need it.
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