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.