Going Back to Fifth Grade

You sit down
close to the floor
losing your height forever.
All along they have been
expecting you. Across the aisle a boy
with thick glasses and
wide underwater eyes
turns to smile. You become aware
that he is not happy,
that none of them are happy.
The baby-faced girl
with breasts and the bald one
off by the windows who had ringworm
are blaming you
with words you can’t quite
catch. Surely they recall your painting
of the tropical bird
you ask, speaking their names
which you have never forgot.
But things get worse: Someone is questioning
your decision to grow up
in the first place, leaving them here.
The whole class applauds.
Up front, meanwhile, the Penmanship Man
who travels all over the state
writing beautifully
is putting on his coat,
and the teacher is at the blackboard
dotting the i in your name
so hard her flesh jolts.
You are the Person
Who Always Spoils It
For Everyone Else. If you could make
one half-inch margin, you cry, just one
beautiful pink map
of Asia. Outside it is beginning
to rain. When you stay after school
nobody is there.

-Wesley McNair