By David Rivard

The brain bounces forward too, right?
so why return to what yesterday seemed to be becoming
before it became today?—
there’s no need for meanness or envy
when waking in the morning, no reasons for fear—
just an unlikely Rose of Sharon blooming by the branch library
and the balanced light of a warming
late October as it shines on a sheet of week-old social studies homework only recently
dropped from the book bag of a wandering Violet Neff
(5 points extra credit—according to Ms. DiNardo, a “nice job”):

nice job say the Tibetans by lugging the rolled-up rugs to air
in front of Yala Carpets mostly the smaller
prayer mats that are colored with clairvoyant vegetable dyes,
nice job says the scent of heavenly inventions like the breakfast plantains frying,
well done says the toddler with the jelly-fish haircut,
all answers perfect say the hedgerows of boxwood left
untrimmed by the vestry at St. Augustine’s

(a coven of swallows with attention deficit disorder muttering one-liners within),
perfect say the chicken legs in the freezer case at Fresh Killed Poultry,

while you wait for the 91 to the Green Line at Lechmere,
a vaguely Wordsworthian subway stop you think
(because the brain knows it’s well within its rights to do so)
a second or two before it occurs to you
to wonder if Ms. DiNardo’s grading is strict—

so what if it is? thinks the brain,
I can still imagine her first name is Julie whenever
I need to.

David Rivard’s most recent book, Standoff, received the 2017 PEN New England Award in Poetry and was listed by The New Yorker in its “Books We Loved in 2016” roundup. His five other books include Otherwise ElsewhereSugartown, and Wise Poison, winner of the James Laughlin Prize from the Academy of American Poets. A recipient of awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, Civitella Ranieri, and the NEA, he teaches at the University of New Hampshire.

Originally appeared in NOR 5

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