This past week was the first week of school for my kids, so I thought I’d post a poem I wrote about a high school memory: “Mr. Andolini.”
I often wonder why certain things stick with us. I wrote “Mr. Andolini” about 15 years after the events occurred. All those years later, the memory still carried an emotional force that made me want to write about it. Even now, I ask myself why this impacted me so much that my brain rewired itself and made neural connections to preserve it. Whatever the reason, it has shaped me in some small way.
“Mr. Andolini” was part of my first collection of poems, The Wind and the Shadows.
Mr. Andolini At first glance, he was an Italian stereotype: his olive face oiled black hair that slumped over his head like a mob hit. But he had none of the bravado you’d expect from a Mafioso Don. He wore a three-piece suit with a tie— overdressed for a high school math sub. But the entire suit was wrinkled; the man looked wadded up and tossed. In no time, the class was a frenzy of chatter and cackling. Mr. Andolini’s voice halted through a couple theorems, then went staccato like an old man stamping his feet at a pack of dogs. About then, something sailed past my head, bounced off Mr. Andolini’s chest, and came to rest near my feet: a balled up sheet of paper. I looked up at Mr. Andolini just in time to see him crumpling into the teacher’s chair, hands over his face. Then my eyes returned to the paper, which I considered for awhile but felt reluctant to throw away.