They knew the conjugations of the flesh;
I knew the day’s lesson.
A noun is the name of a person, place, or thing.

I did the possible:
I memorized their names, smiled my smile,
And taught, small miracle,

One girl, Carolyn Bywater, to tell time,
And tell it she did, by God!
Each minute past became a fallen sparrow.

One June day a bell rang.
They left. They went out into their lives, and left
the squeak in the chalk forever.

That was a thousand thousand sparrows ago.
They are like old bluebooks now—
Telling, untold, indecipherable.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 8 Number 2, on page 38
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