top of page


To a could-be former student on the C train 

I wish I could hear what you see 

across the aisle.  


What of me are you looking at? 

Quietly...have I changed  

from your 8 to my now? How? Much? 

(I am too far without memory refreshments so it's all you.) 


I want my students here. I want to hear from every one.  

Oh, I could make choices, have a guarantee of warmth   

or so I think. What I need is life-like wide-open surprising.     

I can take it. 


Was I casually hurtful? (Never on purpose. Not me.) 

Did I give you something? 

Did you love me?  

Did you like the chocolate chips?   


Someone gave me social insects, butterflies, an idea of a lovely life 

at 9 so I am sympathetic. 


     A boy from my class used to look down, hide when I would see him  

     in the neighborhood years after. On a bad morning I thought to say 

     Yo, Noah…I promise to say hi, acknowledge you never 

     so cut it out. I am deeply annoyed.


Could you be a gift?  A traveling mirror? 

Could you jump-start a temporally dying woman?  

I could see you mightn't want to.    


Did I take away distraction (plastic trucks were always popular)? 

I may still have it. 

I keep so much. 

By Linda Umans

Linda Umans taught for many years in the public schools of New York City where she lives and writes. Recent publications include poems in Spillway, Composite {Arts Magazine}, DIALOGIST, Carbon Culture Review, The Maine Review, LIGHT - A Journal of Photography and Poetry, Gris-Gris, The Broadkill Review, 2 Bridges Review, Queen Mob's TeahouseSeneca Review, and pieces in Mr. Beller's Neighborhood.

bottom of page