They drink the night. An occasional feature in which poets comment on their poems.
Two old principals Touching shoulders smile the same Return to the school For a while they stand Outside the brilliant gym In the wild echoes
Silently they drink The night from the rock fountain
Remembering children COMMENT:
This short poem is really the crystallization of a memory from my past and was composed in those moments when I remembered the scenes within ``They Drink the Night.''
One night at a high school district basketball tournament held at my little rural high school in central Arkansas, two retired school principals returned to campus to see the play-offs. It may have been at halftime when I saw them standing outside the gymnasium, taking a break from the noise and high energy crowd in the bleachers. They stood underneath the heightened building, finally separated from the children and the children's games, mostly by their age and their positions, or their former positions.
They walked across the campus together, away from the excitement which was not really theirs anymore, and they drank from one of the old school fountains which was made of rock and built into the rock wall that the WPA workers had constructed during the Depression in the early 1930s.
At that hour, the playgrounds were deserted; the swings were only shadows. I saw them pause together a few moments and look into the dark structures. Then they turned and came back to the gym. It was as if they had taken a pleasant few steps into their own past as schoolmasters.
I suppose this poem could be described as the poet's memory enlivened by the memories, however vague and unknown they were to me, of the two principals in their seemingly reflective journey to the old fountain.