Poetry Teacher





We’re talking in the hallway

after class. She says she likes Trakl,


how his fear inhabits

the beauty of his poems. You can feel

his heart beat, she says.


It is dark outside, and we stand by the glass door.

I never noticed the softness of her eyes

before, the intimate care of her lips forming words,


the curve of her cheek. I knew women like her

in graduate school, and we talked

then in other hallways


about poetry. I say,

I think she’s right, he might even be afraid of beauty,

and honest about his feeling of awe.




She sees someone outside the door, and smiles

and waves. It’s Louis,

her classmate, waiting for her.


“Thanks” she says, “I’ve got to go;

I’ll see you next time.” I nod and smile,

and say, “Keep reading.”


She goes out the door and gives Louis a hug,

and they go off down the quad.

I like them. I hope they redeem this desperate world.




It’s a warm night.

I walk to the parking lot remembering having said

years ago in an another state, another school,


to a girlfriend as we talked about our upcoming

term papers, that Keats

was afraid of beauty.


For a moment I feel my younger body come back,

and I’m stunned, because it’s not made of love

but of poetry.




                                            Robert Randolph