All year they sit in the back of my class whispering,
exchanging folded notes across the aisle.
At lunchtime, I watch them on the stone steps
combing one another’s long black hair.
But now, as they pass in their homework,
I see that each has burned the name dave
into the back of her hand.
And I know what that will mean some hot
spring afternoon when they fight in the hallway
or outside on the basketball court:
the danger in stepping between them,
that shrapnel of teeth and day-glo nails,
how it will take all my strength
just to pull them apart, to hold onto them,
one clutched in each arm, as they rage
like creation and the universe just afterward,
as they flail about moaning,
shudder into limpness.
And when I release them, Now Blanca, take your seat,
you too, Miranda, they will go
slowly, almost dreamily,
their eyes glazed, bodies drained.
They will be late for their next class,
and the next. They will wander
through the hallways, seldom speaking.
And whenever one of them picks up a paperclip
or lights a candle, she will catch herself
wincing, discover that she is glowing.