As an unhappily married young teacher
Merely a few years older than my students,
Walking home after work with still-new briefcase
In fist, I saw a member of a class of mine
I hardly knew: she looked like Raggedy Ann,
Beaming up the oak-shaded path toward me.
Nearing, tossing her fluffy red hair,
She accosted, “Sir, why don’t you ever smile?”

Scowling, muttering a gruff hello, picturing her
On some arid campus in Hell, I realized there was
Truth in what she said. I had let marital problems
Interfere with my job. And yet, without
That preoccupation, would I have gifted
With any pleasant expression
This member of a class I hardly knew?
I have not yet forgotten her perhaps brave question.

Jonathan Bracker is the editor of Bright Cages: The Selected Poems Of Christopher Morley (University of Pennsylvania Press: 1965; reissued 2015); co-author with Mark Wallach of Christopher Morley (Twayne Press: 1976); and editor of A Little Patch Of Shepherd’s-Thyme: Prose Passages of Thomas Hardy Arranged As Verse (Moving Finger Press: 2013).