I fall back fifteen years: my fifth grade teacher
Rests in my grown arms, thanks me for the rose
In its black-figured vase. Delirious, we close
The blinds, undress. Ambrosia, after the bleaker
Present, to return to days of sneakers,
To clutter the board once more with rows
Of problems! Outside, the restless crows
Fly low over rotted swingsets, bleachers;
Inside, I hold her breasts, alphabet blocks
With cheerful raised letters. And my wife
Holds out the bassinet for me to rock
Our son. I cry, “I do not own this life
You thrust at me”— and then the classroom locks.
I pick my past back open with a knife.
Wayne Koestenbaum is the author of twenty-two books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, including The Queen’s Throat: Opera, Homosexuality, and the Mystery of Desire (Poseidon Press, 1993), finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism. His first feature-length film, The Collective, premiered at UnionDocs (New York) in 2021. In 2020 he received an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature. He is Distinguished Professor of English, French, and Comparative Literature at the City University of New York Graduate Center. (updated 10/2022)