The Night I Slept with My High School English Teacher

I want to begin this story where it ends.
He drops me at the station in the rain before dawn
and says well, should I kiss you goodbye.
His eyebrows rise into the boredom of his body
the way they’d rise in class when someone
suggested Leopold Bloom was homosexual.
All over New Jersey it’s raining. He is speeding
to the train, thinking if he can get me there on time
he will not have to wait, and I do actually mistake
a blurry streetlamp for the moon and nod yes
to the kiss as if he’d offered it. At the end
I’m a helmet of ambivalence. All transparent shield,
all bulletproof bubble, the vast yes and no of pure metal.
In the middle I can’t sleep so I suck on his cock.
It stays limp in my mouth as desire like venom
seeps into the past where I sat on the vast other side
of his desk to talk about my future and his wall
made of books cut a path through the sea back to Ithaca.
Now around us the bodies of sixteen-year-old boys
are asleep on both floors of the dorm and his cock
is a mumbled apology for whatever they did or did not
want from me in the middle of the story as the story
goes: I don’t go to that school anymore, I am as old
as Isabel Archer, Dorothea Brooke, the end
of books. It’s morning, my ticket in hand.

Taije Silverman

Bonjour Vietnam