The poet to my right coils
and uncoils herself, flattens her chest
against the table, rolls around in her seat--
She just can’t contain herself in a single form.
Not her on my left with a penchant
for the lost, the brittle, all the hard
things in life, which she reads
to us with twitching eyes, spine pulled
straight as a rod, her whole body pleading
Don’t hurt me, please don’t hurt me.
Another sits so quietly.
Life has scraped her clean, taken her apart
stone by stone, washed and dressed her
and set her down across from me.
Her poems fidget, search for a place to start.
She asks, Can anyone help me?
All the rest model courteous self-control.
There’s not a carnival vibe among us.
We don’t even blink when our teacher
Tells he will soon be dying.
On command we pick up our pens--
our rescue from this shy reserve.
(Just because we’re poets
doesn’t mean we know what to say.)
We simply share a need for
kindness, for mercy as we force ourselves
upon one another shamelessly.