Saturday, February 16, 2013

a teacher

My own personal nerdfest, grading papers till 2 a.m., looking out into the darkness towards the Big Lake, nibbling Stilton, listening to John Dowland, laughing fondly when students write about sovereignty and "homo saucer." Though only an adjunct, still, this is the good life.

In the late hours, the early hours, everything comes back to you. Other late nights, walking in despair across faraway campuses, mourning the jobs you didn't get and the career you will never have, remembering the night three boys you had in freshman writing call out to you as you are trying to remember where you parked your car. They are flushed with youth and camaraderie, and they tell you you were the best teacher they ever had, and you turn away in pleasure and confusion, kind words on a dark night. They are seniors, and they push on through the darkness, laughing, and now you are smiling, too, to yourself, as you find your car and drive home through the country night, to the home you soon will lose, but then you think you should lose, in the interests of progress, but now it seems like the most golden nugget of happiness, that house in the dark town by the river, when you were young and impatient for the success you knew was coming. And their flushed words, thrown in exuberant generosity, fading down the streets left so many years now, float still on the moonlight on those roads like the purest distillation of platinum, of silver that rings like a bell in your heart's ear, the tired heart that now sits here in the dark, waiting for sleep to come,but still springs up, remembering an unforced gesture, the color of a world only half known, but missed now, so missed, as the new places unfold and strangers multiply, and kindnesses dry up, and even lovers hang back, yet there they were, once, just boys with someplace else to go, shouting an unforced greeting, a blessing, flinging gold happily from little purses that showered, showers, now on your head. The kindness of students, victims of our monkey experiments, still gazing at us with their dark benevolent eyes, as we fire up the rockets kiss them goodbye, tell them that it will be ok and that we, all of us, will be ordinary together again soon, when we see each other again. Which we will.

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