Middle School, by Michael Haeflinger

I wished for a seatbelt,

one of my own

that fit across my chest.

I wished for the school bus to sprout wings

and rise like a sparrow from the asphalt,

to come down in the land

of secluded ponds.


I wished for currents to carry the school bus

away from cheering basketball Friday nights,

away from the boys whose fathers did nothing

that wasn’t terrible.


I wished for silence, for the reward

of speaking up.


I wished for a parallel sunrise

to blow gently through my hair

light rays like a soft wind,

for sleep to mimic in the rhythm of giants

crumpled like locker room towels.


Just before we reached the school,

I wished for the bus’s back door to flail open

and for everyone, driver included,

to tumble out and back down

to the streets of the town

where they, but not I,



Instead, I slunk each corner

back against the wall.

I traced my escape in the linoleum,

my worth in the spaces between

the bells’ relentless rings.

About Michael Haeflinger