Click here to listen to Freeman Rogers read this poem.
Four hours left, and a single class to go.
He's sitting at the window desk today.
on the windowpane
blurs houses in the fishing town below.
Blue roofs go to gray.
The squid boats coming in from nights at sea
appear and disappear in white-capped waves
that rise and bend
in gusts of wind.
The window thermometer says one degree.
Beyond the town, the graves.
The teachers shuffle work and walk around.
Trying his best to study Japanese,
he squints his eyes
a character. The principal makes a sound
of something like unease
and Toda asks him about Caroline.
He grins and gives thumbs-up. He won't explain
that their last call
was back in fall,
that his move pushed them toward the long decline.
It's rude here to complain.
Instead, he scribbles: what's inside of me,
even as I try to be dutiful,
that makes me dread
the cold will spread
and snow will turn the dreary scenery
to something beautiful?