For Robert Frost

With poems with the symmetry of powdered snowflakes
and warmth of Vermont landscapes
written with the restraint of Wyeth scenes
your nostalgic etchings
are best from distance seen

My 4th Grade teacher admired your verses and
made us memorize
"Whose woods these are. . . "
as we gazed into space

In 7th Grade your works appeared next to Dickenson
and as Miss Schwartzbaum recited,
"Whose woods these are . . . "
I mused, "Who gives a piss about that place?"

In high school the "New Englandness" of your works
came into question
as the instructor speculated on
the political implications of poetry.

Was Vietnam part of America's woods?
How would Cubans feel if
Yankee soldiers rested there?

Emblazoned in Scarlet Letters
along with Raven flocks, Aheb, and Leaves of Grass,
I encountered you again at college
but unfortunately
had advanced frostbite by then

Under teach
Dissecting literature
drains the blood from its being

Jack: A bit too frosty for me.
Juanita: Well, it shows how not to teach literature. One can easily memorize dates and authors and poems without learning much about literature.
Jean: Yeah. Until we learned to see ourselves in each drama or poem, perhaps we haven't learned.
Juanita: At times I'm even tempted to say there is no such thing as 'literature' - just an ongoing dialog between readers and writers.
Ella: Perhaps, but then what are people doing in school? You see, we grow up with this cultural artifact called 'literature'. And really it's like an elephant that represents different things to different people.