At the College

2from building to building in flickering shade
3where my students feed lazy raccoons muffins
4and glazed doughnuts, as if to domesticate
5the last wild things on this suburban campus,
6though nothing can make the few deer unafraid
7of engines, words, footfalls, the human rumpus,
8or subdue the fox's wily nonchalance
9and teach him not to kill anything helpless.
10Here, among these fierce and sentimental students,
11I stand on the edge of a world not my own,
12snatching small goods from the large irrelevance
13of what we do, making the old sorrows known
14to children bearing their first calamities,
15teaching solitudes to the newly alone,
16explaining writers' exile to refugees
17and notions of intrinsic worth to half-fledged
18bankers, already driving smart Mercedes.
19Yet they live by their hope, curiously pledged
20to some afterness that will reward and bless
21them for gifts that nature leaves unacknowledged
22or earnest labours I grade at B or less;
23they know some need of love that poets speak to,
24and few can absent their hearts from every class,
25however many dronings they may sleep through;
26they will mark a perfect image or a phrase
27and hear it years from now, wilder then and new.


1] The poet teaches at such a suburban campus, Erindale College (University of Toronto at Mississauga). Back to Line
Publication Notes: 
Richard Greene, Boxing the Compass (Montreal, Quebec: Signal Editions, 2009): 16.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire / Sharine Leung
RPO Edition: 
Special Copyright: 

Copyright © Richard Greene and used by permission of the poet.
Authorization to republish this poem must be obtained from him in writing.