The Student

She arrives each morning because she must.
But in an anguished manner,
She actually likes school—
Not, of course, as some students do
Who steal the sweet pleasure of
A surreptitious square of Starburst
When a teacher’s back is turned.

No. This lover of learning
Winces from her ecstasy
As does the worn athlete
Whose muscles,
Mercilessly kneaded by the hands and elbows
Of the trainer in the locker room,
Send home to the brain
The mystic message of life:

The agony of relief,
The bliss of exertion,
The truth of the nothingness
She devoutly believes will result from
This place—this shadow of the Lyceum,
Where requirements prevail
And learning sleeps as Narayana does
With the dream of the universe
Blooming from his navel.

And though her peers tell her
She should hate this place
If indeed her soul seeks
The slightest trace of meaning,

She marks her pupils’ papers in red,
And straightens out the rows of desks
Each afternoon before she leaves.

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