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Saturday, June 02, 2018


by Tricia Knoll

Make new the angel’s carpet.
Nezami Ganjavi, twelfth-century Iranian poet

Their lesson aimed more at special space
than Islam. Rough sketches to begin –
where an arrow might point to more than home
or maybe home: an old oak with withered ways,
a swing or jungle gym, grandfather’s path
toward twilight. For Marcus the soccer field,
boot to ball. One drew lines of fields of maize.
Another lupine. Lines they erased of bullets
flying, having learned the word trajectory,
painted over with the flame-gold of stars.

Then to measure fabric cut for a lay-down,
a tribute to their sizes. Refuge trimmed to fit.
Help with sewing on a fun of fringe.
Though they could not spell reverence,
a girl with braids cut and pasted spaniel eyes.
The boy who lisped drew his mother’s cello.
Lilacs appeared here and there as the blue vase
in the classroom broadcast May.
Timothy made a map of where his bicycle
could and could not go.

The template suggested a centered door,
open to what lies inside.
Lily drew her heart caught in a rib cage.
Aneshia, the stone library at story time.
John, his father gone to war.
Alejandro, his mother on the other side.

Low, slow background tunes of flutes
and piano. Soft the teacher made the mood
for work, then lowered shades for rest
in a world which all knew well
floated no magic carpets.

Author’s Note: Recently I heard a Unitarian Universalist spiritual education teacher say that kids in her classes were going to make their own prayer rugs in celebration of Ramadan. That sparked my imagination: what would it be like to make your own prayer rug in the days of so many school shootings and the separation of young children from their parents due to immigration injustices. 

Tricia Knoll is a Vermont poet. Her most recent collection is How I Learned To Be White—poetry that explores the roots of white privilege in education, ancestry, childhood and culture.