Teaching the Tigers

/ /

Arms folded, wearing tiger masks,
students sit. Questions? No one asks.

Loss and grief, exile, return:
how much of it can they take in?

The Iliad: to go to war.
The Odyssey: and come back home.

Epic’s relentless forward motion,
lyric’s gossamer attention,

adventure parsed as allegory,
the iterations of the story,

and then to choose the right translation
for a fearful generation.

May poetry keep finding ways
of piercing the miasmal haze

and reclaiming a clear space
behind each young and guarded face

and washing through the walls that hide
whatever’s bubbling inside.

Fall semester’s almost done.
Time to think ahead to spring.

The days will soon be getting longer.
The students go on getting younger.

The days will soon be getting longer.
The world and I are getting older.

The poems are untouched by age.
A fresh semester turns the page.