by | Sep 14, 2016 | Poetry

Mrs. Walker wore silk blouses
buttoned to the neck, with long sleeves
that whispered when she walked. She
did not appreciate the unruly edge of paper
ripped from spiral wire. Did not approve
of our gazing out at the gray February sky,
corrected us with stern looks, startling raps
on our desks, raising her stenciled brows,
shaming us with our full, given names
before she returned to her lecture
and passages from To Kill a Mockingbird.
But when Troy Jones,
the oldest kid in the junior class
staggered in from the cold, late,
leaving the door ajar, and stumbled
to the back of his row, trail of slushy
boot tracks behind him,
she didn’t say anything, just let him
crash and slump into his desk, drunk
on vodka and orange juice from 7-11.
Leaning back he cocked his head,
flung his wet bangs to one side and
gave Mrs. Walker a sneer of warning.
The rest of us looked straight ahead
or down at our own hands gripping
yellow pencils frozen to the blue lines
of notebook paper, waiting for some lesson
to fall like wet snow on our shoulders.

School Desk

About The Author

Karen Harryman

Karen Harryman’s work has appeared in North American Review, Alaska Quarterly, Verse Daily, The Cortland Review and The Raleigh Review among others. Auto Mechanic’s Daughter, her first book of poetry, was selected by Chris Abani for the Black Goat Poetry Series Imprint with Akashic Books, 2007.