The first time I heard Free Bird, I was in seventh grade.
Some kid from across the tracks—
there were actual tracks,
on a street named High—who must’ve crossed from the less white
to the white-collar part of town, arrived one day
at Franklin Middle School
with a guitar strapped to his back, sat down in shop class with Mr. Reavy.
who drove a yellow Pinto. Amidst the lathes and vices,
launched in with If I leave here tomorrow,
which at first, no, don’t, because this is pretty cool, much better
than sanding the corners of a bright blue plastic ashtray
for weeks, though after the 167th time
the teacher asked, do you know something else, maybe a song
called The Sounds of Silence? We wondered if maybe
he might, but the biggest question now
is how could a student show up to class Cuz lord knows
I’m to blame, his neck covered with hickeys.
Where had he come from mid-year,
as if he’d dropped from a distant galaxy where it was expected
to show up at the beige portables with an instrument.
And then one day,
as mysteriously as he’d appeared, he was gone—
a free bird freed from a town
that would never change.