I'm not going to tell you there was a creek
by our house where I caught tadpoles
and an apple tree on the back hill
from where in my dreams, I flew.
See, I left the cornfields and the old train tracks
where I'd meet the farmer's sons and factory daughters
to share Marlboros and throw the Gennessee empties
into the back of some boy's borrowed pick-up truck.
I've lived through empty arms
and the short reach of a mother
who taught me nothing if not to worry.
The sweat of her love grew
the guilt I carried when I packed
my meager bags with poetry and letters,
diaries and novels, scrawled lines,
copied pictures and left.
I left my father cursing the screen door
as it slammed my departure.
I arrived at bottles of Tequila
and iguana mornings foggy
on a remote college campus
between the Adirondack Mountains
and the Canadian border.
Now, I hide behind this teacher voice,
the one that warns that your lessons
are not legible, that you're late.
"Get a pass."
"Sit down," I say.
"The bell has rung,
and get your homework out."
So comfortable these words of command.
I ignore your scars,
the drawn eyes of hangover,
the bitter nails of the struggle
I clearly recognize.
Instead, I'll scrawl another schedule in my planner,
jot another task down to follow,
watch my hands gather the fine creases
of an age I'd never thought I'd be.