I Don’t Know Greek

Jill McDonough
| poetry

but I know what I like, I think, when the kid admits
I don’t know Greek, looking down at the Latin
on the page. Two minutes in a still classroom they want
to stretch out to twenty, absorbed in the new
sets of blocks I’ve given them, the sound and stress,
a way to pay attention, a way to make
their writing sound good to them. Sudden unveiling,
freedom of form. The mind, distracted by iambs,
getting out of its own damn way for once.
You can do anything in meter. You
can forget the dough on the stove top, let it rise
and sour, then bake it, fill the house with steam,
the pioneer scent of fresh baked bread. You can
conjure a fur hat, a silver necklace,
surprise gifts in small boxes on the bed.
Notes on the kitchen table, haloed clouds
meringue impossible above the bay.

Three-​​time Pushcart prize winner Jill McDonough wrote Habeas Corpus and Where You Live. She directs the MFA program at UMass-​​Boston and 24PearlStreet, the FAWC online.

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