He stands in the back of the room
A veteran of war
A monument of knowledge
My teacher.
We must not look upon his face
Nothing is written there
We face front always
Even when answering questions.
His voice is unexpected bait
For our seventh grade minds
We do not doodle
The origin of language is too fascinating.
“No more pencils. Ink only.
Take a stand,” he says.
Only one cross-out allowed
one line through one word
at the bottom of the page—
We joke about needing to plan ahead.
He stood in the back of the room
But he lives in the shadows of my mind
A mentor and challenger
For excellence.