First Warm Day in a College Town

Today is the day the first bare-chested
          runners appear, coursing down College Hill
                      as I drive to campus to teach, hard

not to stare because it’s only February 15,
          and though I now live in the South, I spent
                      my girlhood in frigid Illinois hunting Easter eggs

in snow, or trick-or-treating in the snow, an umbrella
          protecting my cardboard wings, so now it’s hard
                      not to see these taut colts as my reward, these yearlings

testing the pasture, hard as they come toward my Nissan
          not to turn my head as they pound past, hard
                      not to angle the mirror to watch them cruise

down my shoulder, too hard, really, when I await them
          like crocuses, search for their shadows as others do
                      the groundhog’s, and suddenly here they are, the boys

without shirts, how fleet of foot, how cute their buns,
          I have made it again, it is spring.  
                      Hard to recall just now that these are the torsos

of my students, or my past or future students, who every year
          grow one year younger, get one year fewer
                      of my funny jokes and hip references

to Fletch and Nirvana, which means some year if they catch me
            admiring, they won’t grin grins that make me, busted,
                      grin back--hard to know a spring will come

when I’ll have to train my eyes
          on the dash, the fuel gauge nearing empty,
                      hard to think of that spring, that

distant spring, that very very very
          (please God) distant

Published in Unmentionables (W. W. Norton, New York, 2008) Copyright © 2008 by Beth Ann Fennelly. Used with the permission of the author.