A poem by Laurence Musgrove about the beginning of a class.

August 29, 2019

When I start class with a period

Of sitting meditation and quiet,

I often ask my students to put

A hand over their hearts

So they can feel their chests

Rising and falling with breath,

Their bodies beginning to slow

So their minds know where to go,

And after a while, I go back

To my third-grade classroom

With the other boys and girls

All standing, hands on hearts,

Behind our teacher at her desk,

With liberty and justice for all,

Words we wear out like the knees

In our jeans, the tips of shoelaces,

Braids undone, chewing gum --

Our teacher, too, tattered a bit,

Class after class of us smart-alecks

And do-gooders and scaredy-cats,

Not so different from those here

Who sit with me and pledge

Allegiance to the hearts we got.


Laurence Musgrove is a professor of English at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Tex., where he teaches composition, creative writing, literature and comics. His books include a collection of poetry, Local Bird; a volume of aphorisms, One Kind of Recording; and most recently, The Bluebonnet Sutras, Buddhist dialogues in verse.


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