High above the Clearwater River, first class
of the day, this sophomore student fiddles
with his pencil, unhappy in the front row.
Poems glide down the papers on desks
all around him. "You can't get started?"
I ask softly. "I have to think of something
else right now," he says miserably. When
I wait, he says, "This morning I spun a brodie
in the parking lot. My dad's pickup slammed
the concrete wall. I don't know how
it happened." I ask, "What was it like
when you spun the brodie?"
He writes in firm cursive:
The wheel was a world
I spun with a finger
so the school above,
the river below,
* * *
Ripley Hugo was born in Michigan and raised on the east side of the Continental Divide in Great Falls, Montana. After twenty years of teaching at universities and colleges across the country, she returned to Montana in 1973, married the poet Richard Hugo, and taught literature and creative writing at the University of Montana. She also worked for twelve years for the Montana Poets in the Schools program. "The Brodie" was published in Ripley Hugo's collection, On The Right Wind (2008 Cedar House Books).