• Night Instruction

    Huan He

    Summer 2023

    A waswerian: for my eighth-grade Language Arts teacher, Mrs. Cunningham, 

    who made us memorize all the helping verbs in the English language 

    As the evening janitor turns off the last corridor light,
                the elementary desks glow from the lamppost, dusk

    is a mirror of childhood, showing your face as you are
                to the world. A wizened tree taps a window three times:

    Are you there, boy? Are you still? The hall is just a
                meeting place for those who measure their worth in inches.

    Was your friend, once, the next-door boy with the
                widow’s peak, freckled and wearing the same sweat-stained shirt,

    Were our memories measured by dead flashlights?
                During the fire, the neighborhood moved into a school gym.

    Be a nighttime city in between bleachers, a
                fidgeting boy ate Big Macs by a sleepy-eyed woman, the town

    Huan He is the author of Sandman (2022), which won the 2021 Diode Editions Chapbook Contest. His poems appear or are forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, A Public Space, Colorado Review, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere. Currently, he is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Michigan. In Fall 2023, he will be an Assistant Professor of English at Vanderbilt University.

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