Outside on the playground
Children bounce balls
Women chatter on the sidelines
Stronger voices overwhelming
Softer ones.

Companionship must be savory
It must be nice to sit idly and talk
Of simply nothing
To the tune of beetles chirping,
Lilacs blooming,
Night darkening, moon gathering.

Inside my classroom I sit
Thinking of happier times
As I listen to balls bouncing
Women chattering
And to the rise and fall of voices

I tap away on my keyboard
The laughter of the evening
Fades and turns to ashes.

On my desk, a wilted dandelion
Picked by chubby hands
Of one of my students
Keeps me company.

A sudden knock on my door.
The security guard stands
At the threshold declaring,
“I have to lock up for the night.”
So I pack up my teacher’s bag
And reluctantly head for home.

The stars peer down at me
Though the moon casts a doubtful glance
I pretend that nothing’s wrong
But I don’t fool even me.

I drive home humming some
Tattered tune against the backdrop
Of emptiness.
Knowing he will gamble again
And nothing will change
I face my night, my future and his addiction
alone.