Teacher’s Aide

Joshua Bennett

My father showed up to school that day dressed up
as a man with a son with a rage problem; that is, a boy
whom violence—as if rumor, fresh from out of town

—followed everywhere. Ms. Hollinger never mentioned
the more practical elements of this ongoing conflict,
that I fought the other students because I liked my blood

very much & wanted to keep all of it inside of my body
once the playground went feral, as it was wont to do.
From his first day on the new job, my father

would bribe the bullies as only a Casanova of his stature
could, butterscotches & dirty jokes quelling all prior conflict.
The shift was immediate. Now baptized in the flame

of an older man’s beauty, the war on the wise guy
was no more: a cease-fire forged by sheer esteem,
the stuff of corner-store science fiction it was,

this lovely Marine standing watch, half smile
drawing both teachers & seventh-grade girls
to him like lightning to a god of gold.

Last updated October 17, 2022