How fascinated a young person can be with the secret lives of his or her teachers. I left junior high – middle school today – more than 60 years ago, but still I occasionally wonder about the private lives of my algebra teacher, my science teacher, my English teachers whose deep and abiding privacy I would have done anything to break through.
Here’s a poem by Fleda Brown from her University of Nebraska Press selected poems “The Woods Are on Fire.”
Fayetteville Junior High
What happened was, when we weren’t looking
Mr. Selby married Miss Lewis.
We tried to think of it, tiptoed Mr. Selby,
twirling the edges of blackboard numbers
like the sweet-pea tendrils of his hair,
all his calculations secretly
yearning away from algebra, toward
Miss Lewis, legs like stone pillars
in the slick cave of the locker room,
checking off the showered, the breasted,
flat-chested. All this, another world
we never dreamed of inside the bells,
the changing of classes:
Selby and Lewis, emerging
from rooms 4 and 16, holding hands
like prisoners seeing the sky after all those years.
“Bertha,” he says. “Travis,” she says.
The drawbridge of the hypotenuse opens,
the free throw line skates forward,
the old chain of being transcended
in one good leap, worn floor creaking
strange as angels. In homeroom, the smell of
humans, rank, sprouting, yet this hope for us all.
Poem copyright 2017 by Fleda Brown, “Fayetteville Junior High,” from “The Woods Are on Fire,” (University of Nebraska Press, 2017). Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher.
Local journalism is essential.
The journalists of The Spokesman-Review are a part of the community. They live here. They work here. They care. You can help keep local journalism strong right now with your contribution. Thank you.
Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter
Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.