An Empty Classroom, Lincoln Heights

Four dull windows resist the rain outside.
A siren wails like a red angry god.
The breathing of pencil sharpeners
and the slamming of lockers have stopped.

On the board, a child has chalked letters
that bend like her mother at the sewing machine.
Others have laid word after word
as if they knew the exact movements

of their fathers, brick after plastered brick.
You can see their small bodies on these chairs
curve into women and men – yellow pencils
clumsy in their soiled hands –

how their eyes pause between a stroke
of turning a page and finding a word.

William Archila

 

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