It is nine minutes shy of the witching hour, and she is staring in half-comprehension at the heavily annotated copywriters’ pyramid in her notebook, finger-stirring and nursing a slightly sugared cup of chamomile tea.
She returned to the dust-laden desk
like a burdened sinner to the confessional,
but the words refused to come freely.
They forsook her, her constant allies,
for she turned not to them as often as
unspoken obligation dictated.
Now, she spins no word-web of gold,
unaided by the agents of sophistication;
the rich gold dust of her imagery is
a hundred removes from its erstwhile brilliance.
Post the better part of an hour spent
laboriously striking at desiccated rocks that
yielded no water, the prodigal child
turned to suppliance:
“Omnipotent Word, help me find the words again…”
Will I, one day, with tentative hands, find the resolve To draw aside my heavy black drapes
And let the sunlight in again?
Will guilt molest my heart for the need or the deed?
For not retracting those hands that drew the drapes aside?
Seeing it as I might, after a month of Sundays,
Will I shield my eyes from it,
Or teach myself to behold it anew?
That sunlight, I wonder, if it will swallow up the darkness
Or merely disguise it in golden splendor?
There are places, strange places,
Where the sun forgets to shine every once in a while,
Where sunlight can’t hide every blotch of darkness.
Those places, those sunless rooms, exist inside me.
Même si tu escalades la montagne le plus haute,Tu ne peux pas rester là toujours.
Car tu dois retourner au monde ce que tu vois d’en-haut,
Au monde où tu appartiens, le monde d’en-dessous.
La couronne de la Victoire ne reste pas
Définitivement sur une seule tête.
Défaite peut chante ses ballades tristes à voix basse
Pendant que la Victoire chante ses hymnes clairets.
Le goût du Triomphe est doux
Comme le lait avec le chèvrefeuille.
Défaite est un pichet de médecine amère,
S’attardant écoeurante aux papilles.
Mais cher âme abattu et battu,
Aujourd’hui il y aura une blessure, il y a de l’épreuve,
Demain il y aurait seule une cicatrice, une mémoire.
Je m’oppose à ce que tu émeuves.
With coal dust in your myopic eyes
You see warped, distorted images
Like reflections in carnival mirrors,
The surface of disturbed water,
Or the cave of a polished spoon.
Seeing with a visual apparatus
Slick with a film of judgment
Perhaps renders your discolored,
Tinged view of my world and me
To yourself most sightly.
But, how long will you bear to see nightshade where there actually bloom roses?
Serpents where there actually stand people?
Relieve yourself of that judgmental culture, your cataract, your coal dust.
Do yourself a favor: wash your eyes and see,
Behold the beauty that is,
Rather than contriving an ugliness that never was.
Ask anybody who a teacher is. Either, you will end up hearing the stock definition of the word, or the character profile of a person.
From the compendium of traits used to describe teachers, I choose two for the purpose of a little taxonomy.
Subject-oriented and student-oriented.
These traits, while not mutually exclusive, carry their own individual import.
To the subject-oriented teacher,
You know that your job demands dignity, prestige, respect. You want silence to enter the classroom with you and stay there until you’re gone. You have expectations. You want to prove to your peers that you’re primo.
Those people who listen to you, you appreciate their respect because you know you need it. Your foursquare refusal for your class to be second to any other is evident in your methodologies.
You’re particular about not letting a minute unpunctuated by all things academic slip by. Those people you teach need to get it right down to the last comma and period.
Your knowledge is awed, your instruction is flawless, your evaluations just, your admonishments firm.
Small talk narks you, tangential discussions nettle you.
For you, teaching is a revered profession that should not be subverted by feelings of affection and attachment.
You’re concern for your subordinates is limited to their ability to fill those blanks right, conjugate every last verb flawlessly, and to show them the way to go on the scholarly ladder – up, up and only up.
You know where to draw the line, you know what is expected of you, you know what can varnish and what can vitiate your repute.
You are plumed when you are complimented for your professional conduct, your top-drawer classes.
You give your job your all. You’re satisfied with how you do it. You pride yourself in being a good educator.
To the student-oriented teacher,
You know that teaching has an ambiguous meaning. You have your string of degrees, you have a comprehensive knowledge of your subject, but for you, the former isn’t what you use to get respect and the latter isn’t the only thing you are meant to impart.
You want your “kids” to listen to you, and so you bring yourself down to their level. You listen to them. You tell them about yourself. You let them know that you’re as human as they are. Mature, astute and seasoned as you are today, it has not slipped your memory that you were once like them.
Your knowledge commensurates with your humility; the former blows your kids’ minds, the latter touches their hearts. You’re someone who dispenses advice like a therapist, who understands the soup of teenage feelings like a mother, who unabashedly high-fives your kids in the corridors like a friend.
You want to make sure that they know their spellings, articles and prepositions, but what’s more important to you is to you is for them to know they are valued not by the number or the letter on their answer scripts that attests to their performance, but for who they are as people.
You don’t see your kids as workers in a mark-generating factory. They’re not just names on a roll, faces you see thrice a week.
You know that that being a friend isn’t a requirement for the job and the monthly paycheck, but that’s who you want to be to those children because when they lay themselves down to sleep at night, you know they’re not going to think about the right usage of l’imparfait and le passé composé, but about what made them smile, what disappointed them.
You’re concerned about the child whose life isn’t rosy, you talk to the one who seems aloof, you boost the one who doesn’t know what she’s worth, you make them all feel special in their own way.
It means something to you to mean something to someone. You cherish your kids’ love for you and you’re not loth to reciprocate it, well aware that life is shaped by all the love a person received or didn’t.
You know the unspoken principle of being a teacher which is not to prepare kids for examinations of some import, but to prepare them for the long road of life that lies ahead of them.
You know that you’ve done your job right not when you see that perfect score, but when your kids let you know they’ve learned something from you to last a lifetime.
In all the ways you’ve taught by example, in all the times you cared to look beyond the textbook and the answer leaves, in all the memories you made with the kids who weren’t yours but whom you treated like your own, there lies the nobility, the true passion, the real essence of your profession.
(Dédicace: Prof, c’est pour vous, ma source d’inspiration, mon enseignante préférée. Je t’aime tellement.)
Like a rope that frays and snaps when one holds onto it for too long,
Like a flame that dies a slow but sure death in an upturned cruse
Like a cloud that is not faithful to a single phasis of the sky,
Like a butterfly that hop-skips from one capsule of nectar to another
Like the achene of a dandelion’s blowball that is whisked away by the breath of the air,
Like the ebbing afterglow of an incandescent lamp
Like a moment lost and never to recur,
Like a stub of charred coal that will never harbor another flicker
Like this ephemera marked by breaths and beats,
Like a smaller impermanence in a larger impermanence