22 Years Experience

Old maroon paint peels from the textured cinder block surface
Like dried blood, flaking.
A few dozen empty student desks-
Tops decorated with faded pencil graffiti,
Seats engraved with names and profanity-
Wait in vain within the windowless walls
To be cleaned, wiped down, restored.

She sits motionless at her own desk
Staring at the once-white board, now covered
With black marker smudges refusing to be fully erased.

She remembers her first year.
There were days that her clothes were not colors of dust and decay
Days that her sweaters were yellow or pink or green
And her wrists were decorated with multicolored beads.

Sighing, she embraces the odor of breath and sweat
Still lingering beneath the flickering fluorescent light.

Under her chair, a roach,
Deep mahogany, lies lifeless beside his own insides,

Still, and silent, and


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