The Algebra Teacher

I wanted Mr. Davis.
He looked a little like he belonged in an English band
from the early 1960s,
only he'd gotten into maths, instead,
and started wearing sweater vests.

I imagined that his wife was middlingly attractive,
although dull,
and that he still had a lovely tenor singing voice
from his boyhood choir days.

I sat at my desk and shifted around in the plastic seat,
wondering whose bum was used to mould its shape,
when the candy suckers were handed out
to people lucky enough to have secret admirers.
Mr. Davis accumulated a small pile of them on the corner of his desk
from ridiculous girls, as he always did.
He gave them away to the unadmired of us
as we filed out of class.
His thumb brushed the heel of my hand when he gave me mine.

Later, when I worked the green candy over,
twisting the stick against my wet lips
until the paper peeled away, soft and pulpy,
I thought about how his fingernails were so uniformly tidy
and how I could see the lines of his thumbprint
curve past the width of his nail like record grooves
and scoop,
downward,
disappearing along the underbelly
where they met his palm.
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