The Teachers’ Exchange Program
I’m 55 years old, stalking the bare cement
Halls for my lost students, misplaced
Somewhere before the bell, how can pupils
Go missing climbing to the second floor
Though the afternoon air has turned biting
And gray, coal sooty.
My colleague has disappeared too, along with
The chalk, I’ve forgotten today’s lesson
My hair is white in the mirror on the landing
My slacks are tight, later the kids lay their heads
On their folded arms, stare out the ravaged
Windows, lean together like rotten fence posts
Defeated by my explanations.
The waning moon cuts the roof of the next building
As I descend, my breath showing already on the stairs
Sagging green sweater pulled close
At least only two teeth are crowned and my stockings
Don’t bag, I taught the whole class
Adam smiled once.

Emily Strauss

If you have any comments on this poem, Emily Strauss would be pleased to hear them.

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