February 2011 Poem

The Eighth Graders, After a Day of Poetry
        Mary Christine Delea
    We knew it was a poem because our teeth
    caught on its edges and every sound we had never heard
    bounced off our ear drums. We knew a poet
    had written those words because when we pressed
    our hands to the pages our fingers
    glowed and throbbed and turned the color
    of shooting stars. We knew we were reciting a poem
    because our mouths tasted war, coconuts,
    rivers, city cats, hurricanes in foreign countries
    and bird songs, and we rolled the flavors inside us,
    letting them fall into our stomaches,
    absorbed like a monk taking in silence.
    We knew this poem was for us because it opened wide
    on our desks and let loose the smell of dew,
    the stench of bad cheese, the perfume of events
    from long ago that we'd only read about before
    in history books. We knew that the paper given to us
    by that woman we had just met—a visiting poet—
    was a poem because when we looked at it,
    it was nothing we had ever seen before,
    and as we looked closer and the woman told us
    that we, too, could write poems, the poem on the pages
    moved around like cows dancing,
    the spaces on the page became secret tunnels,
    and when the words moved, we moved,
    and then we wanted more.


Published in Encore in spring, 2010.




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