My student, late to class

Candice Kelsey

for Kristina

She tosses herself
into my classroom
a few seconds late
not so much a beach ball
as a fistful of dust
colorful and airborne
a quasi-Nepalese celebration.

She asks permission to share
the magical reason
for her tardiness:

A mountainous neon
floral print bean bag
labeled FREE
on the curb of 23rd
she could not refuse.

And while I listen
to this flutter of youth
in all its wild tensions
between task and surprise,
I slowly close my lap top
to forgo today’s PowerPoint
lesson on the beauty of poetry.


CANDICE KELSEY's poems have appeared in such journals as Poet LoreThe Cortland ReviewHobart Pulp, and Wilderness House -- and her work has been incorporated into multiple 3-D art installations. She has been accepted into the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference and the Virginia Quarterly Review's Writer's Conference. A high-school English teacher of 19 years' standing, she lives in Los Angeles and serves as a fiction reader for The New England Review