The Constance Pultz Prize
Last year he filled his paper with green
and yellow lines. When I told him marsh grasses
swaying in the wind he said no, God. Words
a wild glissando, drool dancing from his chin.
I tell him one day that he brings joy to my heart.
For a year, each time he sees me in the hall,
he repeats this, pulling the sounds
unsteadily from the gourd of his mouth.
His body is a twisted marionette,
carelessly carved from a gnarled limb.
A drunken puppeteer works the strings.
This year he sits with the sixth grade
basketball team boys in my class.
They are all in love with the same girl.
He holds court each day, center of attention.
When we go outside, they pass him the ball,
lay off their moves a moment, cheer
when he makes the basket. Later his long face
quivers, tears polish the mahogany surface,
some infinitesimal slight a splinter
piercing the open field of his heart.
The kids are puzzled, but the skies are not.
They know the burden of storm clouds,
and how heavy the weight of water.