The Innisfree Poetry Journal

by Mel Belin


My brother and I fought
on the way to school
through mounds of packed snow.
I must've been eight, he ten.
We had to go to the sixth grade teacher,
Mrs. Hennessy, while her class sat
and watched. Short of breath, I made
an effort to show nothing
though on the edge of crying
before the group of big kids,
and this strange woman, heavy, imposing.
She pointed to a row of African masks
on the wall, with faces, thick-lipped, savage.
"If you do that again," she said,
"I'll have them deal with you," evoking,
even as she smiled at her thrust of humor,
a harsh inevitable justice,
and of worlds beyond this small
coal town in Northeastern Pennsylvania,
enclosed, secure, at least
within its own limited brutalities.

Copyright 2006-7 by Cook Communication