Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ensnaring Vision

In a Lang classroom too cold for

a mild June we met,

a freshman wet behind the ears I

shivered intently with

five freshwomen,

our ambitions set in the way

our fingers strained against cheap

black and blue Bics

waiting to prove I deserved to

come to Lang with

a steady pen and

sharp need to please

from the first poem,

the first hurled stone

against the frigid room of femmes

arrayed in a rectangle around the table.

When we got our first in-class writing prompt,

we were told to write about a

specific body part,

I wrote about my hair,

tangled in inescapable hugs,

how it shrugged combs off

my head like black bramble,

curly and vicious down to the last

twisted tangle,

at the time I thought the poem

a gamble since I sought

their cherished first impressions

hinged on perfection in this jam session.

It was then I felt the incision of

Jasmine’s gaze on me

jealousy scrunched in her

raised cheeks as she tried

to read her new challenger

to the throne of best writer in B258,

she wrote with great gusto about

her eyes and how they changed color

like a mood ring,

as two hazel bands pinned me under

their sting as they asked

questions of me with a blinking wring.

With lunch came great relief

from constant sitting

with not-to-subtle shivering

a refugee from the room with

too much air conditioning,

I went slithering to the sunny courtyard

to bask like a sluggish python

on the concrete steps

when she appeared

with hands on her hips,

a determined pylon to keep me

from sitting alone sizing up

an escapee from the

interrogation her look intoned.

I was struck,

left prone by the azure networks

running under the cream of her skin

my legs were moving me alongside

her on 12th Street

before I even knew I’d given in.

“I didn’t think I‘d find a writer that

was better than me in HEOP,”

she breathed

as we passed East Side Copy,

after a few minutes of chatting about

our new classmates,

“who is better than you?”

I asked, thinking she was

talking about one of our peers,

nodding at me she silenced

my small chattering fears

about not being ready

for Lang when she sprung upon me

her master plan to procure artists of all kinds

to combine under her guiding

hand to take over their respective art worlds,

mere pearls ripe for the snatching

that we HEOP hatchlings

needed to grasp them and make them ours.

Nodding enthusiastically,

I disagreed with her earlier

statement as we strolled down University

she stopped and looked up at me quizzically,

her olive flecked eyes a

snakebite around my throat,

“I know genius,” she said suddenly smiling

laughter sneaking from round mouth

still walking roundabout the corner

of University and 12th Street walking a

half step ahead of me,

trying hard to keep my leer discreet

from round ass to legs to street

she almost seemed to shine under

the hazy white sheet of the June afternoon,

Jasmine a curvy bloom

alive with her scheme leaving me

struck by the diabolical sheen

of her eyes ochring from dull green

to a rusty tinge between gold and amber

my low self esteem was evaporated by

her casual dream.

I wanted her to be mine until she

mentioned her man Jason

the aspiring rapper,

cutting a seam in the soaring balloon

of my hopes making

the walk back to Lang

a long one paved with

my secret disappointment

and our public laughter

hers a pealing bell

against my low shy chuckle

slightly feeling knees

buckle I feel the first

stray bullets of adrenaline

waking electric corpuscles

in my cheeks finding I couldn’t

stop smiling, energy reverberating

in hot indigo wires in me,

a nest of restless limbs

lost in the lithe latte ocean

frothing up her forearms

rolling over the shores and spaghetti straps

of her black and white striped tanktop

as we trudged up the 11th Street stairs

ears buzzing in the static of our small talk.

Even to this night I try not to sulk

at that sunny June injustice,

the wincing clench of meeting

this winsome lass

my fingers bound,

my aching reach not exceeding its grasp.

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