“How to Fall in Love with English” & “In the Waiting Room” by Jane Sasser

"How to Fall in Love with English"

It doesn’t catch your eye at first, in school,
all those flashier subjects winking like stars
and cells, like battles that changed the world.
Stodgy because you thought you knew it,
just your worn slippers, down at the heel,
and then one day it gave you the slip,

refused to follow rules, and you stumbled,
wanting the certainty of sturdier soles,
the concrete and inescapable answer
in the teacher’s manual, not
your students may say, when in fact
students would always say something

no one had heard before. You took
another look, noticed the way it relished
change, an amorphous thing oozing
across a landscape, lava burning 
and rolling, consuming and inventing
new rock. When you tried to speak,

your words were gritty and lush,
liquid and sere, you found you could
soothe and snark, construct and raze—
for a moment you thought it was yours,
the way it sparkled toward you
before shifting away.
"In the Waiting Room"

We triangle ourselves
as far from one another
as the small room will allow,

each of us a snug unit 
of body and book or phone,
solo and sufficient.

I find my place
in the written words,
but pause when I hear

his voice. The man in the polo
shirt is speaking, at first,
I think, into his phone,

but no. He is reading aloud
from a magazine. And this
is so strange, so innocent—

this middle-aged man
in khakis and loafers,
waiting for his turn

by reading aloud, unaware
of anyone else, or place
or time—that I lean

toward that voice
and listen. Two cups
of flour. One cup 

of sugar. He reads
as though thrilled
at the plot twists of cloves

and cardamom, and
I, too, am lost in wonder
at what will happen next,

what ingredient will
launch itself into life
as he reads to this story’s end

and laughs with joy
without ever 
looking up.

Jane Sasser was born and raised on a farm in Fairview, NC. Her poetry has appeared in JAMA, North American Review, The Sun, and other publications. The author of three poetry chapbooks, What’s Underneath (2020), Recollecting the Snow (2008), and Itinerant (2009), she is a retired high school English teacher. She lives in Oak Ridge, TN, with her husband and rescue greyhounds.