Lyrical Somerville – September 6

On September 6, 2017, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times


With school starting I thought this poem by Susan Hankla would be germane.



Susan Hankla

The box of school papers she’s saved

just to see her mother’s name on each report card

so freshly written, as if the years have not passed.


Then Glenda spies an old math test,

and for fun, she does the problem over—

and finds the teacher’s error.


Then her erasure becomes a black hole

to view time through,

to see herself parched and near-sighted

in the back row.


People in those last seats never

did well: the boy who missed

one hundred days for hunting deer,

the pregnant girl, who drowned in the Clinch,


others in flip flops who went without real

shoes, and herself in altered dresses.


But math, like branch water, asked nothing of her.

Math, odorless, colorless, like water

in the fountains in the hall, where she bent

down, cupping it to her lips, drinking

from that stream—


Nothing but these numbers in memory now.

She counts all her surrenders to poverty’s fate—


one score finally settled at this late date.


— Susan Hankla


Reprinted from Susan Hankla’s Clinch River, copyright © 2017, with the permission of Groundhog Poetry Press LLC



To have your work considered for the Lyrical send it to:
Doug Holder, 25 School St.; Somerville, MA 02143


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