Teaching Students the Language of Regret

by Deborah Fass

I’m surprised by the hurt in their eyes.
Don’t worry, I say. It might not happen to you.
And you’ll be much older

when it does. A young woman from Cambodia
comes up to ask for clarification:
should have and could have. We walk together

to the parking lot, late winter in the eucalyptus
that droop above our cars, drop their pungent
acorns. The air is filled

with the croaks of frogs, toads maybe. I don’t know,
having grown up in a city, what they are.
Lots of voices, I point out. Patient

as a teacher, she gestures toward the trees: In my country,
old people think the frogs are calling back the past


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