In Praise Of

by Wayne F. Burke


the beautiful Sheila O’Ryan
10th grade English teacher
she was from somewhere else
flew in on a space ship
with her long lovely legs
dangling; she praised my
writing and read it out-loud
to the class; she had graduated
from Bryn Mawr or maybe
Smith, summa cum laude
she told us–whatever that meant–
and could speak Old English
and did we want to hear some?
Sure we did.
All the guys sat up front
and Schlonski, an offensive tackle
kept dropping his pencil to try
and look up her dress
which I hated him for
because
to me she was special
like a double rainbow
or solar eclipse
and her praise was something
I needed
something I did not get from anyone else
except coach
who only gave it
whenever I knocked someone’s head off
on the field.

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