Can I recall my dullness, my indifference, my distractions
When I was fifteen? Of course there were classes where
I slept even though I thought my neck erect when suddenly
My name was called and I stood up as if pushed up by a spring.
Miss Ford, five feet tall in a form fitting print dress, sang to me,
“Thirty Years War, Ronald” and she expected me to explain it
As I rocked on my thin-soled shoes. Of course before I was
Plunged into the seventeenth century, I had been dreaming.
When I began teaching adolescents, I can recall their dullness
As they sat splayed-footed, sleepy eyed, and almost indifferent
To the sounds of poems being played on old fashioned records.
There were students, though, students who could twist away
All my established prejudices; create totally new ways of seeing;
Bring up questions never before considered; letting me into their world.
Now, I grow old and I still wear tight stockings above shiny oxfords.
My coat, tie, shirt, and slacks all trim and color coded. But my facial
Skin sags and my eyes have taken on an adolescent indifference
As I know the culture drifts toward short hand speech. A mere code--
Imageless, tokens, fragments, sound-bytes, a rap wound tight with anger.
Reading essays, having to read anything seems to make students sleepy
And no longer interested in sharing deeply understood meanings. Rather,
A pretense of having read the assignments tumbles out in run-on sentences.
I have become excited about leaving the campus and reaching my kitchen
Where I can flog vegetables and olive oil while I soothe my soul with wine.
No regrets because I have experienced great joys of teaching and learning.
I guess I have become a classic case of a burned out teacher who no longer
Appreciates the students’ struggles which moved my skills in the past. No
Comprehension of how loose and marginally coherent media can replace words.