Fall 2011 • Vol. XXXIII No. 4 Poetry |

On a Spring Day in Baltimore, the Art Teacher Asks the Class to Draw Flowers

I. I can begin the picture: his neck is bent, his mouth too close to her ear as he leans in above her shoulder—to point to poppies shaded in apricot, stippled just as he taught her. Class is over. They are alone in the steady air— Through the window, a jump rope's tick. An occasional bird. High voices. Perhaps, so caught up in composing her flower, she doesn't feel his fingers there and there, her neck exposed to the spring air— II. There are only a few lines in the paper: her grade, his age, when the police arrived. J. calls to say he doesn't believe the girl. Girls that age, he says—you know how this goes. Hey, if there's a trial, you could be a witness. What kind of witness? Character witness. III. Yes I knew him. One summer we lounged in the backyard sun and listened to songs about wouldn't it be nice. On the swing, on the lawn, I posed for him, leaned my head against the picnic table. That was when I did not have enough, could not ha

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Mary Szybist's collection Incarnadine (Graywolf Press) was recently nominated for the National Book Award for Poetry. She is also the author of Granted (Alice James Books), which was a finalist for the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award. She teaches at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon.

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