The Substitute Teacher
The big tree fell on the school’s square
breaking benches and one statue.
The wind did not cease till dawn.
The students missed the shade.
They are waiting for the substitute teacher,
a reader with a sweet voice,
reading stories like a song.
She doesn’t want them
to draw gardens, bees, and butterflies,
Think of matrices, play with curvatures
Observe an ant walk on a crumpled white paper,
Imagine a hen in a forest, she tells them.
“Throw colored water at one another.”
Where are the elephants decked with flowers, garlands
of pink and saffron, the street corners crowded with rickshaws,
aromatic “spice that comes from the stamen of crocuses”?
They are shadows of her moves,
Inflections of her voice:
mirrors and echoes
of a noble path she walks.
Before the end of one class
Everyone hears her says
“Don’t be afraid
For one moment, she thinks
she sees a hesitation,
as if they see sparks,
tiny jets of flame,
before they grab