Making Time

In our Teachers Write quick write today, we were to write about a character in a library.  I struggled all day, thinking about what I might write.  Nothing was really tugging at me.  Then I remembered a poem I had written for our district’s writing institute and used that as my inspiration.  Here you go….

Her arms tremble under the weight of the faded books she pulls for her English class.  She always hates this time of year – her favorite and the students’ dreaded analysis paper. 

“Don’t these kids understand how important it is to read these classics?  O’Connor?  Hemingway?  Conrad?  Williams?” she asks herself for the millionth time. 

“What’s happening to our kids?  They just don’t want to read or work anymore.”  She answers her own question letting the mountain of stale books slide onto the nearest table.  Several books continue to slide right to the floor.  Bending down to retrieve her precious friends, she notices crumpled pieces of paper underneath the chair. 

“Ugh! Uncaring, disrespectful kids.  They even leave their trash for others to pick up.”

She sets the paper balls on the table and straightens her books thinking about tomorrow’s lesson, imagining the predictable moans and groans the audience will offer up in response to the assignment.  Continuing to mentally review her plans, she eyes the bits of writing unfolding from the trash she had set on the table.  Eyes darting around the stacks in the library, her fingers peel one paper ball apart.  It appears to be a poem.  “Probably something crude or inappropriate as usual,” she snarls and proceeds to read.

A Cry for Help

I’m dying you know.

Slowly.

Little by little.

Piece by piece.

Until all that

was recognizable

is fading away.

But,

You could help.

You

have the power.

All the power.

Rekindle the fire.

Fan the flames

that are buried

so deep,

so deep

Just an ember

lost in the ashes

of my childhood.

But,

it’s there,

the light.

YOU are killing me,

you know?

With all the

white papers

black lines

red streaks

gold stars.

Row by row,

robotic discussions,

same questions,

generic answers

regurgitated

day after day,

year after year.

Those stars,

peeled off

faded

forgotten

just like me.

Give me something

that will stick.

Uncover the radiance

that barely glows.

It’s in here

somewhere.

In the dark.

Where I can’t

see myself

anymore.

Where everyone

is  alike.

In the dark.

But we aren’t alike

I’m the one

who held

the fire in my eyes.

My bright eyes

that glowed

and now

dull

lifeless.

I move through

the motions.

A puppet on strings.

A calf led to the

slaughter.

I’m dying.

Help me

to live.

Fuel the fire

that burned

hot and bright.

Where the flames

danced

within.

I beg you.

Don’t let me wilt

in your professed loving arms.

Embrace me.

Nurture me.

Feed me.

Tend me.

And that fire

will burn

forever.

I’m dying.

Slowly.

Little by little.

Ember by ember.

Flame by flame.

I’m dying.

Make me whole

again?

Her hands fall limp at her sides.  She stares into the stacks. She turns.  And, without a sound, leaves her precious Hemingway and O’Connor on the table, forgotten.  She doesn’t look back.  Not even a glance.

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5 Responses to Making Time

  1. I remember when you first wrote this poem. For me it stirred heartache, gratitude, hope, and joy. Heartache for so many kids, myself among them, who were not engaged by reading or writing growing up. Thankful that our kids are not being lost. Hopeful for the future because of teacher like you. Joyful because you’re mine, and I get to share you with them. You inspire me. I think your vision is one to which we all are called in various ways, to find the dying ones and protect, tend, fan and fuel the flames of creative imagination, innovation, inspiration. What a great dream!

  2. Just…wow. I don’t think anything else would do that justice.

  3. Tina Jordan says:

    So proud of you!!! Awesome job!!! Loved how you incorporated the poem!!! AISD teachers are da bomb!!!

  4. glenda says:

    A poignant reminder that we teach people, human beings w/ feelings and fingers that bleed when pricked. I have to remind myself of this when I get frustrated. It’s hard. I don’t want to close the book on the old friends who wrote them; they are important and have much to offer our students. We just have to find a way for them to meet on common ground and w/ muthal respect.

    • Glenda, I totally agree. Our “old friends” hold much value. As a parent of a high school student who is a reader and a fellow teacher, I beg teachers to find that common ground. Unfortunately, I experienced this as a high school student, and I’ve watched many of my 4th grade students fall away – my inspiration for my writing. Thank you for thoughts.

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