At the conference center
The staff retreat glides on:
Flip charts rustle, paradigms shift.
Outside the picture window
Snow falls hypnotically in the woods:
My screen saver.

College Town, 1959/1999

The paper must have used her yearbook picture
In the story about the fire:
That vacant, southern beauty looked right past you,
As it had on the library steps,
Those soft spring nights, years ago:
How patrician those now seared columns once seemed.
In our house, removed from fraternity court,
We had sought to emulate
The excess presumed by privilege:
Palpable odors reach out over time,
Stale beer, soiled excretions,
A college town on Sunday morning.
I read she was an honors student,
Served meals to the needy.
No doubt.
She died in a fraternity house fire,
Compromised, an expiatory offering,
Upon a pyre of used furniture and unread texts.

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