I conclude today
begging students not to wish away time,
a treadmill exercise in futility
with only three weeks until graduation.
They sit along the back row of desks
leaning against the wall,
only half-awake, half-asleep, half-listening, half-aware
of the thousand first and last chances
sliding across their faces
then out the classroom door.
I leave the building
after the final bell
my brain filled with the hissing sands of exhaustion,
its thoughts reduced to a low, drowsy buzz,
the humming hive of my skull.
It may be thoughtless,
clambering into my car in that state of being,
starting the motor, floating sleepily down the road.
Showing little appreciation
for traffic signals, street signs, and oncoming vehicles,
I drift through a neighborhood on my way out of town.
Three young boys draw my attention,
riding bicycles as fast as they can
into the steadily blowing wind
that warm May afternoon.
They pedal, rising to stand and lean
face-first into the breeze.
They become frozen in that instant, forever in my mind:
smiling while the future is still present,
hanging in the interim
as it becomes the past.
Michael Hylton, St. Louis, MO 2011