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Ripe Berries

Somewhere in the not-too-distant dawn,
ripe berries lie waiting for my touch.
They nestle hidden, wild and warm,
scarletted glimpses in a mossy clutch.
Eyes closed, I see the violet springing there,
in patches thrown across the wood.
The thicket rests in verdant, emerald air,
pristine and hushed where few have stood.
Meanwhile, my spirit keeps its vigil
as smell of chalk dust fills my head.
My sleeve is tugged, small upturned faces, too,
show unrest gazing just beneath the brow.
With eyes that glaze at talk of nouns and verbs—
of life in Africa. Though hard, to them it seems right.
No walls, no school, just roam the hot savanna
and hunt gazelle with blunt-tipped bow at night.
To bathe infrequently in lion's water holes
seems more to be desired than condoled.
In secret self, some part of me agrees,
my barefoot soul ticks, ticks the minutes left.
The waiting children never once suspect,
her pagan presence teacher holds in check.

—Joyce Herron

By Way Of Murmansk

We call'd him "mad," but mad he never was;
fanatic, maybe, dumbing down the work
until our notebooks burst: Evangeline
and parts of speech & diagrams arcane
plus once a day a test to keep us taut,
and if we slip, we read our names in chalk.
Explaining to our folks, we try to talk.
The other parents, waiting, hear our fault.
It wasn't some deficiency of brain
that made him stutter over Henry's rhyme,
that made him shake or made his ulcer perk,
or made him shout, half deaf, until we buzz.
The War—three times torpedo'd—that is why
the School Committee let him teach—or try.

—James H. Sutton

Vol. 02, Issue 01, Page 69

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