It took longer than expected to walk to my old elementary school. I can't tell you how long it took. And by the time I got there, I was certain, it would be too late to get inside and have a look around. It was suddenly night and I found myself at the main entrance. Do you think the moon is larger on their coast than ours? It seems that way to me: larger and a good deal more brilliant, I don't know why. It's not something I feel comfortable discussing. But I know that I can talk to you. I have always felt that I could turn to you. The door was unlocked, to my surprise, though every light in the building was off. Blindingly the moon burned into each classroom as it glided by, until I stood outside the door of mine. Finding it slightly ajar I pushed it wide open with one hand, shielding my eyes with the other; heard more than saw a dead leaf skitter across the floor, hopelessly giving away my position. I realized I could not move for the room fallen from its former murmurous to absolute quiet, followed by a unanimous turning of faces in my direction, the humorous and lethal eyes of great leaders gathered in secret all trained on me for a long minute—a minute with seasons—before slowly returning to whatever it is they actually talk about. And I for one am glad they are willing to keep such secrets from us. For us. I don't want to know. I don't want to know anything anymore. All at once they were children sitting around the circular table in formal attire far too large for them, heads bowed, eyes closed as in prayer, then wearily raised and gazing straight through me: twelve brothers and sisters torn from sleep by their mad father who had just been explaining to them why they must all die.
Copyright © 2013 by Franz Wright
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission