First Day at a New School
by Arjun Rajendran

Anything for a smile, I thought, on
my first day at the new school—

A crow sat on the window sill
and scavenged in my head

while I remembered
all the friends on a faraway planet

with anger and envy;
in the daydream, we played

soccer; the goalie stood at
the corner of my eye, his body,

a sweltering mass of tension.
Someone kicked the ball so hard

that it flew above his net,
beyond the knoll, tearing

through the realm of imagination
and into the classroom like

some deus ex machina.
Just as I was envisioning

the chaos that would prevail
and my new classmates’ shocked faces,

a piece of chalk struck me below the ear,
in a rude and brutal awakening.

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