[i. marcy abel- social studies]
I had once seen something so truly inexplicable as to make me want to change my life,
dirty paperwork laundry scooped up on my desk and all.
There was a boy outside who held a textbook in his hands, worn and lived-in hands
that have never seen work or such uncomely mistakes as blisters.
He had torn a great deal of Chapter 8 out. It had an eagle across the number
and so I knew it was a history textbook,
even though its cover, ashamed of its academic nobility, hid against the ground.
From the window, which was rare because in school windows were a rare comodity,
too translucent to be trusted,
I watched him unsheathe a silver tube like lipstick,
and when he touched it to the paper, the eagle turned its head and folded its wings across its face.
The words disappeared into the legacy of fading maps and flowering paperback novels.
Then I went outside to ask him what he was doing.
If he did not say, it was only because I already knew.
He took his silver lipstick tube and his ripped textbook with him. I watched him leave,
his shirt loose and tender in the wind,
and I drew my shoe across the ashes of the book he had left behind.
I called after him, but I didn't know his name, and he never sat (calm, untouched,
wanting nothing more than the ashes of an origami eagle) in my classroom
and I could not seem to mean more than tumbling brambles in an unspoken paradise
too wild for words.
When I was a child I wanted wide open spaces with meaning.
I wanted everything to be crammed full
of explanation and cause and effect and I wanted geography to be full of life and people and things.
When I was a child the smears of silver lipstick tubes full of blue fire did not touch pages.
But this all just goes to show I must have lived a long time ago in a place full of once-wases
that serve no purpose except to be antiquated and unaquinated with the green pastures
of fields and youth, for the youth no longer are sheep, and if they are, they have long singed
away the whiteness of future flocks. I cannot be the sheperd of something I cannot understand.
When I was a child it was hard to create and destroy history.
Not so anymore.