Liz Green

Limp swings, plastic seats on chains

outside the Slavic Christian Church

I drove past every afternoon, exhausted.

Never any children in them,

and I wondered where they were.

My ignorance about the world felt vast:

not good, because at the time, I was a teacher

of people five years younger than me,

and bought horrible green and blue “teacher pants”

that emphasized un-winningly my ass

and the chalk mark I got on it from leaning

against the board, as if backed into

an alley. One kid publicly accused me

of hating him because he was gay, which I hadn’t

known, only that he spent the class period

eating loudly from a bag of oniony sandwich,

or head down on the desk. When I’d called him

into my office I let him talk first and he

said, We don’t respect you, speaking for

himself and the whole class. As he makes

his way into the world, I wonder if he ever

thinks of me and that fall in chicken-

processing-plant-scented Harrisonburg

and all I can hope is to have been erased,

to not have stuck as the snow and ice did

on the mountain road I took at sunrise

and sundown every day, to and fro, to teach

knowing nothing of myself; seeing with alarm

the blinking “fog warning” sign between the wipers

bumping back and forth—it was a fall, a spring

of storms and fog and horses sheltering

under a fragment of barn near the little

cabin on Wild Turkey Lane I shared

with my fiancé, my ticket out of Virginia

and teaching, though we would never be happier than

we were that spring before our wedding.

Liz Green a New Jersey native, received her MFA from Warren Wilson College in 2005. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in 88: A Journal of Contemporary American Poetry, Red Mountain Review, and Forklift, Ohio. She lives in New Orleans with her daughter.

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