Night Class




The night class I dread, somebody

always wanting something—

little birds waiting for food,

wide open beaks, mouths agape—

the feeding as sacrifice.


One of the older students always

coming at me with worn spidery skin,

the brassy blonde pony tail, a band-aid

stretched across her nose. Always

coughing, saying Sorry, coughing again.


Always asking me to proofread

her résumé, poems, the children’s story

she’d written with her shaky hand.

As if you had time, my officemate says.

I agree, but scratch off a few comments.


Tonight, I let class out early.

On my way to my car, I hear

the phlegmy cough rattling

from the bus stop shelter.

I quicken my pace through the dark lot.


At home, I pour a glass of merlot,

sit down to read the homework—

Thank you letters, using specifics,

to show appreciation to the person

who has been the greatest help of all.


Between notes to Mom, the favorite uncle,

a generous boss, I find a letter written

on pink stationary, embossed with gold roses.

The letter is addressed to me, the shaky hand

claims there is nobody else. 

                                                                                          Suzanne Roberts