Carrie Fountain was a runner up in 2002 Marlboro Review's Prize in Poetry for her Poem "Purple Heart" selected by Eleanor Wilner

Purple Heart

Carrie Fountain

In history, Beverly is showing me a bruise
on the inside of her arm, taps my shoulder
each time our teacher turns to write on the board
so that she can point out another one of its many
features: yellowed edges, dead center, blue spots,
red. That's blood, she says, all of it, and the world
goes on fighting for a few more minutes until our
teacher, suddenly so bored with the War, turns

and writes FUCK IT on the board, pulls her mess
of keys from the drawer of her desk, unchains one
and lets it drop to the tile clink then walks
down the aisle our desks make, to the door, looking
no one in the face until she is out of the room, gone
forever, and one of us has to buzz the office. Who
knows? Who knows it will be Bev who will rise out
of the silence, pull down her sleeve and take charge,

calling each of us to her: the stunned, the crying, the two
boys who take the key to the window and throw
the goddamn thing into the parking lot, the laughers,
the cussing, the few who are taking advantage of this
time, the few who are waiting dumbstruck at the door
for some order, anything, even if it's simply for that
woman to come back, to continue the lesson, the nervous,
the unchanged, the seemingly unchanged, the changed,

those who will die young, those who will go on in this
world to the eighth grade, to graduate, to investigate
their interests, to exploit their potential, to buy and sell,
to have babies, to make payments, to settle in. When
she pushes the button the secretary will say, Yes? from
a thousand miles away and Beverly will say, Something
violent has happened here
, she among us understanding this
is the way the violent get you: not by coming for you,
but by leaving you behind.

Carrie Fountain is a poet who lives in Texas.

Copyright ©2002 Carrie Fountain.

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