by kathleen flenniken
— after Richard Shelton
Thirty-two students stare in rows.
In their private minds
pink dahlias bloom, swans fan their wings,
a dog barks behind a barbed-wire fence.
No one raises a hand or answers the question.
Thirty-two pink dahlias bloom in rows.
Students raise a barbed-wire fence.
No one questions the barking dog.
Swans stare behind their fans.
A dahlia stares. Pink hands
fence private minds. Questions
raise their rows of wings.
The swans answer thirty-two.
A pink dahlia answers a barbed-wire stare.
No one raises the question.
Thirty-two students bloom
behind their wings.