To the Boy Who Sat Behind Me in Physics

Antioch Writers’ Workshop Poetry Contest
Second Place, Adult

To the Boy Who Sat Behind Me in Physics
Elizabeth Schmidt

I didn’t calculate the trajectory of your shoulders
as you walked (though they were fine enough
and wide) or look for you before the bell rang
as one searches the night sky for the North Star.

I never thought your eyes were anything more
than brown (but a nice dark brown),
didn’t dream at night of falling somehow
on the ground with you, two bodies in motion

attracted by a force they couldn’t control.
(In short, there was no chemistry.) From my side
of the equation, we were both students of uncertainty
living in a common spacetime we couldn’t name.

Perhaps you felt the same? Not noticing
my hair or jeans, not formulating theories
about the laws of my universe or how to
get me into your backseat at the speed of light.

(Or not.) The day you took a quantum leap
and passed a note that said I was beautiful
was what Mr. Bowman would have called
a transfer of matter and energy.

We never kissed. We went to prom
and later on took Calculus and Advanced Chem.
After high school our orbits crossed
occasionally and then they didn’t (as they do).

But I remember you, your boyhood crush,
and still value the evidence, the thing itself:
a torn piece of notebook paper +
your handwriting = my time machine.

about the author
Elizabeth Cantonwine Schmidt lives and writes in Kettering, Ohio. Her poetry has been published in Flights, and featured on WYSO’s poetry program, Conrad’s Corner. She is married with four children, and works as a Librarian at Wright Memorial Public Library.