In your class I learned about astronomical bodies
And how kids should be raised to shoot for the moon
And one day we’ll land among those bright stars,
So you landed in Amsterdam when you quit teaching.
I remember you told me my elementary acrylics
Were the closest thing you’d seen to a real Van Gogh,
And when you ran your fingertips over a replica
Of his museum sunflowers, you thought quietly of me.
“Just don’t cut off your ear” you whispered
Through the cold Atlantic wind. And I laughed.
It was funny only because you didn’t know the joke
About a scar so close but always hidden inside
Those photos of me as a fifth grader the day you left.
You’d never know how my brother rocketed my head
Through a glass coffee table at a car dealership,
And that my ear is now held on by medical sutures.
You’d never know what my life has become by now.
If I had your address I’d recount how these five years
Have pulled us through many separate universes.
I’d tell you that I’ve given up trying to reach the moon
Or even the stars. All I want now is a quiet Dutch garden
To grow flowers for other people to paint.