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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