The English Patients




          Demetria slinks down in the back row

          trying to hide her texting, a major taboo

          in my class. Kendra’s swelling stomach

          an obstacle to comfort, gingerly wedges

          herself into a small desk. Derek has been

          banished from Martha’s Vineyard and sent

          to the Bible Belt to reform his rebellious

          ways. Thespian Vanessa tosses back her

          long blond locks into the face of Charlie,

          who aches for boldness to speak to her.

          Grandmother Brenda, in a Napa Auto Parts

          shirt, attends class during her lunch break;

          grease-stained fingers streak her paper

          with dark marks which will blend with the red

          ones I will soon add. Eighteen-year-old

          Lori wears spit-up on her corduroy jumper

          and tucks baby Tyler’s teething ring and

          animal crackers into her backpack, which

          doubles as a diaper bag. Jeff, a Southern

          charmer, sports a silver ring in his devilish

          tongue and colorful boxer shorts which peek

          from the waistband of his wide-leg jeans.

          Andy’s essay reveals fantasies about girlfriend

          Pamela and prowess on the basketball court.


          I ready my instruments before beginning

          my invasive procedure, a weekend ritual.




                                                                                           Vicki Collins