Laura McDermott Matheric Coconut Creek (Richard Ryal)
St. Valentine’s Day clouds
lumbered across my sky,
culled and dispersed. Behind me,
like clear weather, the window gave out:
a dab of red, a dab of gray, white apertures.
Huddled under a desk with students,
I concentrated on something close, something small.
I breathed the breath of eagles, their spirits one with blessings.
I rose and fell in time with the slow river of the Everglades
as it flowed west of my classroom.
Its Sawgrass, the oldest known plant,
a three-dimensional v-shaped stalk with upward-pointing teeth.
To Seminoles and Miccosukee, survival food
when food was scarce.
How could we have known that grace was not scarce
and would eventually fall upon us?
Atrocities in sixteen minutes tucked beneath a desk.
Three deceased in my classroom
begin to sing within my meditation.
The landscape, like God, a circle whose center is everywhere,
whose circumference cannot be defined.
I recall an organ chord,
a soft hymnal during midday cries –
the smell of cordite, acrid and sour.
Apollo Astronauts once described the moon’s aroma
like gun powder.
In the stillness of my classroom,
the small space that pulls me inside, I am out of orbit,
childless by three.
I want to pour myself into the veins of the invisible.
crystalline. Sleep-shaped and sharp,
memory is all mixed up with metaphors.
You can’t see the same thing twice.
You cannot unsee what you saw.
A student said he’s not sure
if the splatter on him was his or his friend’s.
My classroom now a cemetery,
three cypress trees sprouting in the middle
of this grassy water prairie.
Sixteen minutes chiseled into limestone,
the mythic history of Western civilization,
pinpricked through the zodiac.
And these three children rise in the wind
with the other fourteen
eagles gliding over Everglades.
And like these blades of grass,
we survivors have to stand
sharp through drought and storm.
Nothing to dull our teeth.
No one to silence our songs.