Tasha Graff


I imagined you waiting,

broken-wristed and black-eyed,

as I hovered by the doorway,

willing my expression neutral.


When I finally entered

I wanted to sit near you,

to rest my hands on your shoulders

and say, “Finished with your essay?”


But this is not my classroom,

and I cannot see your eyes

as the judge looks to me to tell

the whole truth without sentiment.


Your mother left you homeless.

You set the school on fire.



“Testimony” first appeared in English Journal, Vol. 100, No. 6.