POETRY || Jared Morningstar
Confessions of an Aging Teacher
He held them in the palm of his hand.
Lifting them higher above his head like Atlas,
his knees buckled:
knees that were older now,
knees that were forced
to support more weight now,
all on what would have been enough sleep
at 25 and single,
but not at pushing 40
who loses sleep every night
because he has a seven-year-old
who thinks she rules the world,
and a seven-month-old
who just figured out how to open kitchen cabinets
and is addicted to electrical cords,
and has to find money to feed them
after bills are paid.
Wait, how many lives am I holding?
he saw dreams in vulnerable eyes.
They couldn’t tell he needed coffee,
that his heart was pounding off beat,
that his arms were shaking,
that his knees were cracking.
But he closed his eyes
and kept his failing frame steady.
I can’t let them fall;
I can’t let them down.
He knew their lives depended on him,
just as his children’s would, one day,
upon them.