This is Not a Test

Our new English teacher wore corduroy
and a Polio limp. His flares hung loose
on his wasted shin, inciting uneasy
silences. He was unlike the others.

I forget his name as he didn’t last.
Our first lesson was unlike the others.
Our pubescent class took turns reading
a poem by Toge Sankichi, a survivor

of Hiroshima. Can we forget that flash?
We heard an air raid siren, oscillating ice
through our veins. Seek cover immediately.
We were told to write how we would spend

our last four minutes.
This is not a test.
I descended stone stairs
to a cold, dark place.

Photograph by the author