In the fifth grade, we clustered around

the dictionary, trying to find


the word. Electricity nearly ignited

the air but Miss Walker snatched


the book away and made us lay our heads

on our desks for the rest of the afternoon.


Yesterday, on the radio, I heard

two astrophysicists argue


about whether time ever moved backward.

I could tell them, if they asked me.


I could tell them about skinny-dipping

in the Atlantic, where the unsteady


moon casts geometric light as I run

toward the jetty with a boy


whose muscular teenage body

I can still put my hand out and touch.


Or decades later, when a final, forceful

push becomes a scream


and my first child slides from me.

It all goes back to fuck,


the story of lives lived without direction,

a face pressed into a book, a forbidden


word, an over-zealous teacher who should

have forgiven us, should have let us lift


our heads from those wooden desks

back when an afternoon seemed


to last forever, and forever never

existed at all.



                                                       Robin Greene