English Lessons

The pebble of a word drops through
the smooth circumference of my student’s ear.
It falls, unbending
with a kind of murder in its fall
(ruthless as bulls and plumb bobs
and pigeon shot).

Between his pauses I listen for its splash,
so far below our twisted knot of speech
we almost couldn’t hear.

Minds are more like wells, I suppose,
than steel machines,
than the cowling of an F-16,
bouncing words like fractured light.
I’ve seen sixth grade girls
incinerate a thought,
sucking up the ash;
at other times ambivalent
a flower receiving a fly.

But above all, and either way,
receiving receiving.

Nothing worries like a word.
What have I done?
And why this word? Why then?

And what creeps up from that well:
the cannibal bird,
the crooked beak of heaven?