Issue > Poetry
William Page

William Page

William Page’s In This Maybe Best of All Possible Worlds won the 2016 Poetry Book Award from FutureCycle Press. His Bodies Not Our Own won a Walter R. Smith Distinguished Book Award. His poems have appeared in such journals as North American Review, The Southern Review, and The Sewanee Review as well as in Best of the Net.

How We Learned


In our gray woolen uniforms, in the early hour
we caught our bus a block from the Man on the Monument
standing with his stone musket at parade rest,
facing east, leaving Southern boys eighty years after the war
to speculate on the symbolism of the direction
of the statue's stare. But we were not sons of the Daughters
of the Confederacy and didn't care
any more than the little plot of grass or iron fence
around the statue what its eastward gaze
may or may not have meant.
Our bus stop was across from a Service Station,
where gasoline sold for 25 cents.
Polly, the owner and driver, unfolded the door, and toiling
through gears the bus lumbered its way under
the town's single stop light.
While a silent sun effortlessly floated up
above the horizon, our bus growled
and groaned, bouncing along the blacktop.
We settled in for our journey, our school books
and lunch bags clutched in our laps.
We rode to our stop at our iron school gate and strolled
across the green lawn to a stone block building
to our teachers wearing their ersatz uniforms, among them
Bean Pole, who taught history; Owl Face, our math
and science instructor; and plump, bespectacled Pussy Foot,
our English teacher, who gave weekly spelling tests.
We answered only when we were called upon.
After a dismissal bell's clatter and our military drill, we crossed
the green lawn again to catch our bus
or to hitch a ride with a driver eager to tell us how lucky we were
and how hard his youth had been.
Through a window I watched the wheat marching across a field,
the wind at its back counting cadence,
and in the distance beyond the strategy of books and drills
I saw the wind gust into the leaves of a maple,
a maneuver of red and gold moving back and forth.

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