The teacher asks a question. You know the answer, you suspect you are the only one in the classroom who knows the answer, because the person in question is yourself, and on that you are the greatest living authority, but you don’t raise your hand. You raise the top of your desk and take out an apple. You look out the window. You don’t raise your hand and there is some essential beauty in your fingers, which aren’t even drumming, but lie flat and peaceful. The teacher repeats the question. Outside the window, on an overhanging branch, a robin is ruffling its feathers and spring is in the air.
Reprinted from Cold Pluto by permission of Carnegie Mellon University Press. Copyright © 1996 by Mary Ruefle.
A boy told me if he roller-skated fast enough his loneliness couldn’t catch up to him, the best reason I ever heard for trying to be a champion. What I wonder tonight pedaling hard down King William Street is if it translates to bicycles. A victory! To leave your loneliness panting behind you on some street corner while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas, pink petals that have never felt loneliness, no matter how slowly they fell.
Naomi Shihab Nye, "The Rider" from Fuel. Copyright © 1998 by Naomi Shihab Nye. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of BOA Editions, Ltd., boaeditions.org.