Apr 19
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 19, 2018)

Her American Lit class was a disarray of desks,
as if to say
rows don’t matter in the chaos of literature.

She sat in the middle of seventeen
like the center of a cyclone,
and it was the way she held the book—

in the midst of honors kids
where I had slowly crept
from years of remedial; former friends

ignoring my sudden presence in the discussion.
It was lonely
and I felt so remote to the scene I wrote one thing

she found worth reading
and she read it
to the class while my face went hot,

all my divergent endings
to Huckleberry Finn.
And if the words of Gatsby

were still floating, etherized above my head,
I would be the bashful sycophant
loitering in their swagger.

It was the way she held the book.
It was her bearing.
She was pregnant and fierce

in her defense of our pregnant student,
as if to say we could,
sure as hell, read Hemingway and propagate.

It was her bearing. So muscular and precise,
like a Book General,
shoulders back, head high and bemused

at the brink of an idea.
I can’t explain it
but I’ve been trying to replicate it

all my life. It was the way
she held the book, dominating, contending
the flapping wings of pages,

chapters flipped open wide
by a single hand,
waving it around us like a gun.
These poems for NaPoWriMo were inspired by a poem I did years ago for my friend Michelle after hearing she passed away, 30 poems for inspiring women connected to me. The title now says "33 Women" because the poem to Michelle poem had already been written as well as two prologues I posted March 31.
Mary McCray
Written by
Mary McCray
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