Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

Teaching English in the Biology Lab

Gary Fincke
From Prairie Schooner, Vol. 84, No. 4 (Winter 2010)

The sea life chart is a prop
For Melville, the mounted cat
A visual aid for Poe.
Pigs and rabbits, unborn, sit
On shelves like family photos
While everybody opens
Their textbooks to Dickinson
And Whitman, Wharton and Crane.

Tenth grade is the year for frogs
Dissected, worms halved and pinned.
It's the year of seeing life
In scrapings from post-lunch teeth
And finding a place to park
To touch an undressed body.
Faulkner, Fitzgerald, a week
With the Harlem Renaissance.
Late in the year, each morning,
They look at muscles with joy,
They learn the layers of skin
Where pleasure and pain begin.

When the first new driver dies,
A boy gone to recklessness,
The fetuses swim in jars
As if they might still be born.
When we switch to Salinger,
The skull atop the desk waits
As if I can throw my voice,
As if it's about to speak.