Clear as Spring dawn
I remember Miss Nance’s
Second grade classroom,
When she yanked me by the arm
Out of my little hardwood desk
And dragged me to the cloak room to
Beat me within earshot of all.
Tight-lipped and stoic in her labor she
Added nothing to the racket. Nor did I.
Just took it.
That afternoon we
Huddled under our desks,
Warned to look away from
The tall widows that opened over the
Roof tops fanned out below our hill
Toward the river.
Warned that the flash from the
Bomb that the Russians would surely
Drop on our mills
Would blind us.
Under the desk, still sore,
I wished they’d come.
Come and drop their damned bomb.
Catch her looking-
Blind her in front of the room
Burn her into a pillar of dust
Which they said we would all be
On that day.
Which the priest says you are now
If you listened to him.
I lay there and promised myself
My first cigarette after school;
Not connecting till later that I wanted to
Put it out in Miss Nance’s eye
The way my old man had done to the
Mill foreman who called him a little Dago
That time at the union picnic.
No, just then I only wanted the cigarette.