April 4, 2011

Seth Michelson

THE CLASSICS PROFESSOR AT 58

The collar of your brown blazer
turned up against a cutting wind,
you hustle, late, to the train stop.
The sky is dark. The street’s dark.
The wind’s like pins in your cheeks.
Goddamnit!, if only you hadn’t
indulged that nitwit student after class!
Without her drivel about Homer
you’d be sitting at your stop now,
warm within its shelter, reclined
in your copy of the The Odyssey.
Instead you’re trundling, dis-
combobulated, down the block in a hurry,
a dried leaf in the wind,
a hodgepodge of papers, books, bifocals.
Loaded, your tote bag
bangs and bangs at your back,
and the wind’s so vicious!, numbing
your neck, creeping down your left arm.
You should stop, shift
the tote to your other shoulder,
but the pause might cost you your train.
So on you speed, left arm tingling,
body sweating but chilled, your heart
wheezing until it seizes.
You collapse on the concrete:
a coat dropped from its hanger.
No one notices. Or they’re too cold to.
Beside your head, your Odyssey,
fallen from the tote, lies open
on its spine, being riffled by the wind
that that epic of struggle and death
mentioned and mentioned,
but never quite explained.

from Rattle #19, Summer 2003