For Ruel Foster

chair butting into chalk tray
he wedged his long and massive legs
beneath the table
to face us
bulgy calves exposed
socks sliding south
inevitable as glaciers
tree trunks with roots splayed
to suggest feet
rooted to the platform

he spanned the table easily
with arms loosely resting
his hands end to end like bookends
bracing the table’s edges
alternately lifting it in small scrapings
lifting himself from his chair
edging the table to the brink
reclaiming his seat on an in-breath
arms and fingers lax
table back to center

the warm winds of Southern Literature
ebbed and waned in his classroom
Faulkner to Flannery O’Connor
where Dewey Dell picks to the end of the row
Vardaman’s mother is a fish
Mrs. May gets gored by the bull
and we all wait for the ACCIDENT!
his passion overpowering
table a kilter

epiphany rises
one great gifted man-teacher
imparted his deepest understandings
from a foundation firm as granite
he transmitted
as a vapor across the room
as the turmoil of a nest of vipers
the anguish of dreams unrealized
and with fiery sonorous breath
the warm blood of the human experience