Learning Curve


All my high school teachers have retired
to the golf course now. My science teacher
tends the clubhouse bar, still standing
as I remember him, behind laboratory table,
mixing. If you ask, he can still explain,
on the back of a cocktail napkin, precisely
how fermentation works, or how the ball
must precisely curve to reach the cup:
there are no straight lines, my art teacher
could tell you, in golf or in working with clay --
only the curve of your hands, the arc of your swing,
the pot, the balls trajectory, the earth.
My science teacher could explain about gravity,
which the ball never escapes, always falling
in accordance with laws which the golfer
feels in his swing, in the weight of his club,
in the movement of air, as the potter knows
the pot from the feel of the clay in his hands,
the movement of the wheel, the completed arc,
the hole into which it falls. In twenty years
I have almost caught up to where I left them,
on the cusp of middle age, so far from where
I thought I'd fall: there are no straight lines,
only the curve of our lives reshaping themselves,
their arc, our hearts still learning how it feels.



                                                                        Rob Hardy