My grade school teacher, Mr. Evars, used this topic
every time he was tired: “Imagine you are a man
from Mars and you see a bicycle for the first time.”
We never pointed out that most aliens would’ve
seen plenty of bicycles as they checked out our
world through their electrovanjujuscopes or at
least explored in the empty hours before dawn.
We just solemnly wrote the same essay every time
and, every time, got the same grade.
Then just before school was out in June, Mr. Evars
disappeared without a trace. I heard my mother
on the phone: his wife, another man, shame.
And I remembered how he’d come to class, taste
the chalk, lay his cheek against the blackboard,
and stare at us eyes narrowed in disbelief as if he
were seeing everything clearly for the time.