By Claire Bateman
Featured Art: Spring Blossoms by Winslow Homer
The second-graders just don’t get it,
those 10s diving invisibly
into the blank space between
the columns, only to bob up
at the very top, one line over,
displacing each other
westwardly in wave reaction,
but on the children’s smudged pages,
disappearing altogether, or showing up
in the wrong place.
One child has found his way
to the wrong conference room,
& sits there alone;
I send a child to find him,
who also doesn’t return.
This morning, my grocery bag ripped
bottom to side, eggs cracked
& oozing in their styrofoam nests,
apples careening around the parking lot
like gleeful winos.
In spring, you can’t hold on
I’d like to compensate
for the limits of curriculum,
explain to the children
how things wake up from their
dreamless, self-induced half-sleep
to burst open, fly apart, seek their course.
I want to tell my pupils
that April has nothing to do
with the passage of light along the hemisphere,
but rather, with the communal fitfulness
of the material world, a restless contagion
moving from object to object,
as everything starts to stir.
Listen, I’d say. Go slow.
Minds want to wander,
feet want to stray.
At times like this, a quick move
might shatter everything.
In a few months, those decimals
will rest, placid as dinner plates
stacked in your mama’s cupboard.
You’ll just have to
wait them out.
Claire Bateman is the author of Wonders of The Invisible World forthcoming from 42 Miles Books, and eight other poetry books. She has been awarded Fellowships from the NEA, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and has received the New Millennium Writing Award (twice) and two Pushcart Prizes. She has taught at the Greenville Fine Arts Center, Clemson University and various conferences, including Bread Loaf and the Bloch Island Poetry Festival. She is also a visual artist.
Originally appeared in NOR 3