The John Robert Doyle, Jr., Prize
Don Quixote rides into the school upon Rocinante,
Sancho Panza trailing behind. "Your room
is an enormous cave," he tells me. Points to pastels
of loggerhead turtles pinned to the bulletin board.
"Rock walls," he says, "etched in stories." He nods
toward the dripping sink and pronounces it spring,
miracle of pure water bubbling up from bowel of boulder.
The chairs, all soldiers, kneeling in stoic reverence.
And when it arrives—sugar-speeded, hormone-hyped,
foul-farting, glue-globbing, yowl-yakking—
Don Quixote tells me I am the dragon tamer,
destined to calm this beast, coax it to surrender
the treasures it guards belly-close,
flower petal-skin there so thin
I can see through to webs of blue-violet veins.
"Only problem," says Sancho Panza, his voice as nasal
as paint smear, "is that by the time you’re getting
to that treasure, you’ve already been swallowed."