Coming Home From Home
What My Students Teach Me
tells me it's too cold here
but some choice.
You go out one morning,
the car hood's open a little;
three sticks of dynamite
and this is the third time.
In Salvador you take the hint:
writes of the love
of her and her husband.
The first English she learned
she could read
in any language.
on the most profound moment of his life
writes a vague tribute
to world harmony and brotherhood.
When I question it,
I am a Baha'i from Iran.
This is for my friends,
not wanting me to seem foolish.
I nod dumbly as he explains
he was made to watch
as the blades fell
and their heads dropped in the street.
who now signs her name Lisa
has not seen her brother
since the night
the pirates boarded in the China Sea,
tells me she likes the winter here
because when she wakes
all the white stars are lying on the ground.
tells the class
I am visiting my mother after work
babysitting my sister's children
when the sirens went.
We hid under the table
covering my nieces with our bodies
as the bombs fell the teapot shattered.
Everything crashing, it seemed forever.
You were watching that night
on your televisions: Desert Storm.
says it began in April.
Two million of us sir,
in the Square, I was so proud to be Chinese.
I was a reporter
when the official came into the office
and said, no more stories!
I was so angry I quit.
When the tanks came in June
– we ran, hearing the screams,
too scared to look back.
Now I can no longer write, I study computers
speaks of a trip to the front with his friend
who asked to drive.
We stopped for water.
I was gone a minute.
When I came out,
a missile, there was nothing left.
At the court martial, his mother screamed at me,
I should have been in his place.
what do I know.
I am a man on the beach
where the boats come in.
WHAT I KNOW ABOUT GERALD
That Gerry the name the other called him,
was too joyful for his dignity.
That he was given to days of rage
when everything was dark.
That he was the only student
who ever told me I was wise
the day we talked about spirits
and how the earth is a holy mother.
That he was grey and moustached.
older than all the others.
That his fierceness was a necessary force to live by.
That he kept trying when the others failed.
That he was an Ojibwa
from somewhere north of here,
from a school run by the priests.
That the things they did were unspeakable.
That he ran away and never returned.
That when I called the counsellor back,
all I had was scraps.
That she told me he was a roomer
in a place where no one knew him.
That he had a sister no one could find.
That he had tried twice before.
That he left a small bundle of possessions
and nowhere to send them.
That when he went down to Scarborough Blluffs
the spirit welcomed him.
That the waters of Lake Ontario consumed him.
That what ever wisdom I have is not enough.
That his grey eyes follow me
As I watch over my classes
for the watery arm that took him.
Light Against Light
I want again to believe
when we love
passing always from this light
into the next.
those x-rays of my lungs
I was shown as a child
whose gauzy shadows
were hidden wings.
I could feel the hot fist of the heart
but where was the soul?
And that his shoulder blades
when Billy stripped by the river
were more than bones
and we would someday lift our arms.
We had seen the gleaned skeletons
of birds drying on the salt flats.
On each wing, a thumb and four bird fingers.
How we lost faith
and knew that the minister's collar
was a halo that had slipped,
a noose that reddened his face
and made it difficult
for him to look down.
the 13 loops of the hangman's noose
made a hoop into the next life.
Me, I practiced that knot over and over.
But now there's no way back
and at night I ingest the room
and into the room, the building
and into that, the city and the lake,
until I am pulling in
all those edgeless places
where this galaxy becomes another.
From Coming Home From Home, © 2000, Bruce Hunter