Yawning is a symptom of adderall,

a strange side effect for a stimulant

to be sure, but then, so is staring at a wall

in thoughts unresolved and inapparent

that lure one playfully into thinking,

the way the Cheshire cat entreats Alice

and, having made her curiouser,

disappears his limbs, leaving a puzzle

and catenary grin even more puzzling.

It does not make someone “focus” so much

as it makes them inclined to be focused,

flooding catecholamine receptors,

masquerading as epinephrine, dopamine.

Euphoria is the absence of distractions,

the state of readiness, and readiness is all,

but being unaccustomed to happiness,

or overdosing on it, one forgoes thinking

for feeling itself, and stares at a wall.

 

His mother tells me after our session

they doubled his dose from fifteen to thirty.

I know already because he took the bottle

from his jacket halfway through his spelling list,

examining the lid as though he’d never seen it.

When I ask what’s the meaning of spectacular

he stares at the floral decal over my back

and laughs at some invisible non sequitur.

At his age I’d seen two speech therapists

and sat at the same sort of table he’s at now,

the same bowl cut, same manic contract with life,

at once defiant and obedient,

at first aloud, then later, quietly.

Who would I have been if they’d be given

to me as early as they were given to him?

 

Three hours a week is more than I can bear,

wading through worksheet after worksheet.

He doesn’t care what a pronoun is, and I don’t care,

which isn’t the same as saying we both don’t

like a little learning. There’s no greater

pleasure in the world than learning about it,

and when I teach him what a spyglass is,

drawing my invisible telescope like a pirate,

or what a clipper or picaroon is,

and we perform Peter Pan and Captain Hook,

his eyes ungloss with fugitive black flags,

a vision of living words in his look.

A half hour later, the feeling fades,

page eleven is the same as page ten,

and by the time we both end up at home

it’s time to wake up for school again.

His yawn inflates my own unsatisfying yawn,

a gasp that never takes in enough oxygen,

another symptom of the adderall,

one cannot find the end of a yawn or a thought.

We’re a pair of perfect hostages,

made content, and ready, to stare up at the clock.


R. Charboneau

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