Regional Poem
by Carol Church

Sixth grade. The lull before the last buses come.
We're huddled around John Coen's desk,
jackets on, bookbags packed, ready to
fly towards the door but not wanting to. It's all of us:
the smart kids, the soccer boys,
the girls who have breasts. And who don't.

Because John Coen has got
a potato bug circus. He built it
from pins and erasers, from pencils and pieces of string.
His bugs walk the tightrope, they tumble like wrestlers.
The classroom is quiet except for the sound of him coaxing them on.

It's late afternoon. Early June. Reagan's president.
For now we've forgotten that John Coen
is weird.
His acrobats spring through the hoops that he built them.
Jen Boyle edges closer; the windows
let in a warm current of air.

But in a minute the clocks will clank forward,
the speaker will bleat out a bus. In a minute
we'll roll down the road
past the fields full of silence and bugs.
Tomorrow we won't have a sub.

And then in a minute John Coen will be dead.
He'll hang himself out in some leftover woods;
he'll be missing for days.
In a minute those fields will dissolve
into cardboard Colonials, half-acre lots.

unconnected, all this.

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