Raising Their Hands

By Julia Lisella

Sometimes I dream about my students,
the pink of their palms
red and raw.
One student, seven feet tall,
his long back
hunched over the desk,
his arm out and above him —
he could be waving
or stopping a train.
Another student wears eyeliner for the stage.
She bends from the ribs
her body forming a tiny “c,”
her hand up sudden as a whitecap.

Some days they frighten me.
Put your hands down, I tell them.
Shout. Explode. Scream it.
Instead they look at me and smile
the way they would at foreigners who don’t speak the language.
That’s how they’ve trained me.
Now I wait until I see a scatter of fingers
and then I choose —
Yes, your palm, your hand,
your arched spine,
you with your idea,