For Bill Macauley, Who Sleeps in Class
Bill’s eyelashes, filigreed, weight-pressed by sleep,
Are small sticky fronds creeping downwards and deep
Is the haze between my voice and his face.
His eyelids are armor; his eyelids are lace.
I speak of the Jazz Age, of Gatsby and Nick.
Some freshmen are polished; their questions are slick.
They’re feminists, radicals, Marxists, and fay;
Deconstructing the green light over the bay.
But I’m mesmerized by Bill’s delicate eyes.
One young pundit says “Tom’s homosocialized
By polo, by football, by Wall Street, by Yale.”
But I marvel at Bill, so ethereal and pale.
Spider’s webs collect miscellaneous stuff.
They are richly festooned with cottony fluff,
With flies, feathers, fescues, and crackling carapaces.
I look at Bill and see how his blank face is
Propped upon the desk; his eyes are shut still.
They’re a dense web which refuses to distill.
Dessicated in Bill’s eyes, I can envision
Jay Gatsby forever free from critical revision.
Bill was a real student of mine who was very pale and blonde and had long eyelashes. He had mastered the trick of sitting perfectly upright while asleep and I kept staring at his long eyelashes and watching him sleep when I was trying to teach. The poem is dated--about 20 years old.