Mennonite Poetry Home | Larry Nightingale



Lines (for a teacher)

Turned to the everlasting blackboard, white chalk and pointer in hand,
you stand still, tall, reciting the unassailable law of your logic.
Hypnotically tapping across your defined world, your perfect construct,
fact by dry comely fact. Dots...precise markings upon the void.

Off we, sideways, giggling, up-side-down,
your pointer become a sprouting rod—then a wand
opening, wider perhaps into a fan. Therein all the colours of a world
like pretty little Winifred's pleat-skirt fanning
folding and fanning, like little Ed's accordion.
His squeeze-box bursting whole-notes big as buttons
like the polka-dots on little Roland's shirt.
All spinning off, spinning out our enormous brains'
doors and windows—wide open.
A small bliss of dreams floating up. From body to little body
passed—still invisible. So it was, or so it seemed,
a new world—reel-to-real in child-like psychedelic—was projecting
on your boney square black-trousered backside, sir,
in a simple streaming sunbeam.

But you're turned facing us now, waiting, still waiting,
(having asked—oh dear what is it?—the profound question.)
This is how I've come to understand,
believe, though hard won, via the long equation of the years,
long memory, and our still blooming hearts and minds,
a full answer, sir, to what 'love minus zero/no limit' makes
waits in writing these lines for you. Getting it all down
may be my happiest life-long detention.
Wherein I shall write a trillion times, and mean it, it is your prison
that sets you free... it is your prison that sets you free...

© Larry Nightingale




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