Adrienne Su

The Re-Education of the Intellectuals

If there had ever been a poem
in the intelligence of animals,
in uncut grass, in autumn,

it was unavailable now. Dreams
were more colorful here,
thanks to the deepness of sleep

after labor, but also more quickly
forgotten. What they happened
to have committed to memory

would have to suffice
as text. In rippling oceans
of cotton, in seas of rice,

they tried not to imagine
their daughters and sons
commanding legions

of teachers in fields of their own.
The longer the absence,
the duller the ache, but on

occasion they got a shudder
of recognition from the unlined
faces of their captors,

barely able to tower, so certain
of their rightness, they’d die
for a phrase. Soon their ignorance

would be full-grown. Could it be
reversed? How would they take
the murders and suicides, cities

on fire, reparations? If fate were
to jail them, even with books,
would they ever be able to enter?

© 2008 Electronic Poetry Review