I was eleven the first time I saw it,
the November afternoon gone
heavy and gray. I’d begun
to doze when something—
not palm fronds rustling
nor monkey pods rattling,
but more like spoons against glass
or small bells—something began
clinking against the second story’s
blue palings and rails, lightly at first,
bringing all of us, even the teacher,
to our feet and out the door.
three years before, when the staticky
Standard Oil broadcast had been
interrupted by news that brought to tears
even Miss Engard (who didn’t tax
our imaginations too hard playing
the part of witch at Halloween)
had there been so much commotion.
Seeing our teachers openly weeping
had frightened us even more than a word
concrete. Under our feet, concrete.
And all of us stretching our hands
beyond the blue rails to catch,
as they fell, clear pieces of sky
that burned a second,
melting in our hands.
Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2003
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.