Back to School
The calendar page turns
from the dog days of August,
to a September unlike any other.
We grieve the department colleagues
chosen to give up this worldly journey
these past few months,
for reasons unfathomable.
The long days of summer were broken up
by wakes and funerals, harsh reminders
of mortality, that beauty and humor and
sweet generosity of spirit is always a limited deal,
except in memories where they live on,
That first meeting we share fond stories
of these missing comrades,
and once again tears flow freely.
The hallways are strangely silent
without their friendly voices,
their knowing smiles,
their seasoned sayings of advice
that kept us all on an even keel.
The year itself is cast with shadows,
and an ongoing optimism that
with each new school day
will come a happy realization
that this was all a crazy dream.
But after all, it was not.
And still the school bells ring,
days broken into discrete periods
of instruction, yet the largest lesson
cannot be taught, it is the one
forever marked by their absence.
It’s never an easy explanation,
even while staring at the twilight sky,
as sneakers of nearby joggers
beat rhythms into the fading day.
You become the reservoir for endless tales,
the rising level of excuses and alibis,
so-called reasons of avoidance to commitment
that threaten to drown a relationship.
You, the sedulous, meticulous, diligent opposition,
strive to keep a head above water,
reflecting rays of hope even when
moon stands in for sun and a sense
of déjà vu builds mountains of apprehension
against the distant horizon.
You hear and interpret, sigh and reply,
follow the script carefully,
never missing a beat,
even as the feeling arises again
that something big has passed you by.
The silver creek at sunset,
the scintillating sense of summer’s distinguished swath
against otherwise mundane country coloring,
a hint of elegance, of the riches nature hides below.
Crystal fresh mountain air, furrows of melted ground ice,
the remnants of hope that harken back to simpler times
of purity, innocence, so little of this remains
trickling through the mossy roots of ancient grasses,
the Spanish heath, the seaside daisy, lantana,
the whole of the blue mountain bushland,
acacia balleyana’s yellow dance, joined by
the coreopsis laneolata’s orange smile,
ipomoea indica’s lavender invitation,
the red berries of leycesteria formosa,
or the white butterfly flowers of
the creeping tradescantia fluminensis.
He steps gingerly through the vinca,
thinking of his lover’s body back when
first they went camping:
that early morning shower, that tiny tent,
the unexpected beauty of her nakedness
wrapped only in a sleeping bag’s insulation.
It was a time of goodness and exploration,
wondering about the meanings of nature’s signals,
trying to learn the names of all they found there,
young and unable to interpret things,
feelings, the glory of identification,
the impossibility of control.
Gary Glauber is a poet, fiction writer, and teacher. His work has received multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations. In 2013, he took part in Found Poetry Review’s Pulitzer Remix project. He has been widely published. New work is forthcoming in Fjords Review, Agave Magazine, Ozone Park Journal, JMWW, Stone Voices, Noctua Review, Dirty Chai, Poemeleon, Ginger Piglet, The Gambler, Thin Air Magazine, Meat for Tea, The Citron Reviewand Deep Water Literary Journal