Academic journal article English Journal

Proper Etiquette

Academic journal article English Journal

Proper Etiquette

Article excerpt

Brian moves from chair to chair

in desks arranged to simulate a table of four.

Prom week, I plan deciphering ancient codes

before they face the hieroglyphics of fine dining:

which fork for salad, how to rest a knife

across the bow of a plate to signal you're not done.


Mitch says.

". . . a hammer"

the response.

I stop. Plastic spoon hovers over paper plate.

"What did you say?"

Cold. My voice,

a gray, waveless, Norwegian shoreline.

"Brian, look at me."

He raises his hand up to the cave and cliff

of his eye socket and cheek bone.

"It's okay. Don't worry about it."

"Look at me."

Brian stands, reluctant-teenager pace.

He looks down: I look up

not into the whites of his eye.

The red, which he has a history of seeing.

"Someone hit you

with a hammer?"

Brian or Mitch, maybe Anthony

sputter an illogical silliness about

school rivals, a party.

I stare.

Stare at a boy most teachers never hear speak.

Stare, remembering freshmen year:

Hugging him for bringing his grades up

and his later confession, that

was his first since his mother's aneurism. …

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