Jeff McRae is a writer, drummer, and teacher. He earned an MA in Writing from the University of New Hampshire and an MFA in Poetry from Washington University in St. Louis. A 2017 Best New Poets nominee, recent poems appear or are forthcoming in Aji Magazine, Salamander, Ascent, Cider Press Review, Midwest Quarterly, The American Journal of Poetry, Cloudbank, and elsewhere. He lives in Vermont.
In the fourth grade the students discover
the forest around their house. In the fifth grade
they sit in a row on the jungle gym, protecting
their nests, speaking in baby talk to mask
a silence—they fear the ugly bird inside.
Soon everyone’s nest is full of broken eggs.
No one speaks about them. In fifth grade
the student learns to fold paper, to establish
with the precision of a crease where one
edge envelopes another edge. They fold
crane after crane. They all do it.
Every morning the fifth grade folds paper
until they create a flock of quiet birds.
The classroom is a school. The classroom
is a storm. They look at the thunder.
They look at the waves. Everyone knows
which birds are theirs. They fill their book bags,
bring the birds home. Cranes line the windowsill,
fill the glass bowl. Mobiles turn in the draft.
It takes all of sixth grade to fold a fox.
They gift it to their parents. In seventh grade
the forest is silent. The child is gone.