Every week in my classes we do a ten-minute write, any one of a bunch I’ve stored away over the years, e.g,. “Think of a powerful figure from your childhood, someone you haven’t seen since. Write about that person.” So often it’s a teacher who is the powerful figure, and there are many times we sit in respectful silence as the writer reads aloud through tears, sometimes of anger but mostly of gratitude and love. What students might not know is that it works the other way, too. Sometimes, when things feel impossible, I’ve stood outside the classroom thinking I had nothing left, no way could I go through that door and teach. But in I go anyway. And all it takes is one line or one look from one student to restore me to myself. The art of writing is a sacred one, and so is the act of teaching.
To Certain Students
– V. Penelope Pelizzon
On all the days I shut my door to light,
all the nights I turned my mind from sleep
while snow fell, filling the space between the trees
till dawn ran its iron needle through the east,
in order to read the scribblings of your compeers,
illiterate to what Martian sense they made
and mourning my marginalia’s failure to move them,
you were what drew me from stupor at the new day’s bell.
You with your pink hair and broken heart.
You with your knived smile. You who tried to quit
pre-law for poetry (“my parents will kill me”).
You the philosopher king. You who saw Orpheus
alone at the bar and got him to follow you home. You
green things, whose songs could move the oldest tree to tears.
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I’ve always loved this amazing poet, from way back when I was a kid and I thought that all the weirdness of punctuation and lower-casing must be a typesetting mistake, and now I love this poet even more, for the way his love poems can be about romance and sex and remember-me-when-I’m-gone, and how in this particular one, love is a place and yes is a world. I also love ee cummings because I believe he would have no problem with me using the word “love” four times in that last sentence. Happy Valentine’s Day, all.
love is a place
– ee cummings
love is a place
& through this place of
(with brightness of peace)
yes is a world
& in this world of
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One of my sisters once said, about something she was trying to get past in her life, “If you don’t get over it, then. . . you don’t get over it. That’s your punishment.” That line has always stayed with me, because it’s true. Don’t forgive someone for something, live in bitterness. Shun love because someone hurt you, live with a stingy heart. In the end, you punish yourself. This poem, and the beautiful Rilke poem that inspired it, makes me remember what my sister said, and the sound of her voice when she said it.
(after Rilke’s “Herbsttag”)
– Jeredith Merrin
Time, it is time.
Summer has been
Go ahead, Fall:
shrink down the days
and sugar the grapes
for late-harvest wine.
Anyone still unknown
to herself will stay,
probably, that way.
Anyone unlinked by love
will be love-
left out now—waking,
up and down
up and down,
restless as leaf-bits
and papers in the street.
For more information on Jeredith Merrin, please click here.
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