Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


The Hand

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.

Credit


Reprinted from Cold Pluto by permission of Carnegie Mellon University Press. Copyright © 1996 by Mary Ruefle.

Author


Mary Ruefle

Mary Ruefle is the author of many books of poetry, including including Dunce (Wave Books, 2019), finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize and longlister for the 2019 National Book Award in Poetry. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Whiting Award. She lives in Bennington, Vermont, and teaches in the MFA program at Vermont College. Ruefle is the poet laureate of Vermont.

Date Published: 1996-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/hand-0