The Classroom

This is the city.
This is the school, the classroom where I can learn
what are angels, how to love
and the secrets of invisibility.
I have studied the secrets of transpiration,
on the skin of leaves the microscopic pools of water
that evaporate in the sunlight, high in the tallest branches of the tree.
The drying sends a call reverberating down into the roots,
and they respond by reaching deeper into the quiet soil,
seeking without sight for the secret pockets of water
from rain, from underground streams.
The leaves are always saying, Send more!
They like it up there, hanging in the sunlight
catching food and making dinner in their tiny green walls.
It is good just to live, and not to worry,
it is enough to be alive.
The days are a story for those who look and read;
there are comments on the margin, direction and clues.
I see vines spilling over iron-spear fences, flowers tumbling
from their green fingers, strewn over the sidewalks,
saying: Right this way, if you please.
We have been waiting for you
and it's so good you're here.
There is magic here, there are spirits
in the fluid dip of a crane's neck,
the white fluttering of their feathers
delicate as a veil,
in the silent slipping of cats through
the gardens of the night,
in the sweet shuddering of the water
as a nutria seeks out his mate in the canal.

I have seen the river, the lake and the swamp,
where the water will flow and where it will grow
iris, moss, alligator and egret.
I have seen where to stay and where to carry away.
There are angels here and saints
watching over school yards and hospitals
hovering almost tangibly in the taste of the air
but unseen, never to be seen.
They are more like a wind,
felt, but not seen or touched,
and full of love and protection
like the wind off the gulf is of rain.

People ask me if I ever think of home,
and I do. I see it in my dreams, the girl I was,
and I call out to her, Come on!
like she had only fallen behind.
I think if I call enough, even softly,
she will come,
pulled like the water from the dark soft earth
through the channel of the trees.
I have learned to love her
and you too, I will watch over you quietly,
speaking love to you not through words,
but through caresses like falling leaves
through deeds leaving a small mark
like a raindrop drying.
There will be nothing to hold you here
except the smiles of the flowers
and the hot breath of summer on your neck
and the forgiveness of rain
making everything clean, clean, clean.

Mary E. Kincaid

Copyright © Mary E. Kincaid
March 1998

Next in ring: ...a poem in this room by Brenda O'Connor...
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Copyright © 1998 A Small Garlic Press. All rights reserved.
Created 1998/1/19. Updated last on 2000/7/17.