August, month of the evening cricket,
the withering garden, the sun
tired of its expectations,
and the professor
begins to dream of chalk dust
filling her lungs like coal dust,
or the dream of losing her classroom,
sprinting down corridors,
squinting at room numbers,
so far removed from the one she seeks.
After a summer of casual drift,
she is suddenly aware, again, of her clothes,
of what her face looks like
when stating a fact.
The sea of student faces
she is about to encounter
sends her searching for the Dramamine
she believes she has in the First Aid Kit
she took on vacation.
All she knows, all her credentials,
begin to seem like nail clippings
someone forgot to throw away.
Characters from novels
she waited to read until summer
begin to invade her syllabi,
her lectures threaten to turn to soap operas—
the heroine or hero making fun of her pedagogy
and landing in bed with her flash drive.
What she does to help herself
is buy school supplies:
durable folders, pens with precision tips,
a planner that includes an alarm clock,
a new outfit for the first day of school,
a new skin, thick, flexible, familiar
as the wish she had one time long ago
to teach, to fill a room
with the beautiful sound of thinking.