For my students as we catapult toward the end of the semester:
Bless the first day of class
in its confined clutter. Notebooks
stacked and piled like sculptures
that say to the first lesson, I am ready
for you to feed me. Catapult us
into the realms of academia.
Picture chimpanzees swallowing
pineapple-white sheets in open cages.
Get your hands dirty, I tell them,
love the pages, the print, smell it
and remember papyrus. Break
the spine, hold it up to the light:
tell me who you are, author, tell
me your secrets; help me make sense
of your world. Transmogrify.
Cave dwellers, hierophants—make friends
with the exclamation point, bond
with the asterisk. Play with dirt.
Play with dirty words.
From Four Blue Eggs:
Annotating the Text
I tell my students to take up
their pens, savor the highlighter,
revel in the anticipation of appending
the words we make love to.
Most let their eyes follow the page
but not their untrained hearts, although
timidly, a few scribble whispers
on pages, becoming active, joining
in a dialogue with Bartleby.
One day they might revisit
these tactile memories, permanent
records of their comparative thought,
or maybe one of them
will remember this intimacy
upon finding, deep in the Tragedies,
her mother’s small handwriting
on a copy of Othello, urging Desdemona
to stay the course. One of these daughters
will find buried in the basement
dog-eared, spine broken, her name
underlined with a star next to it.
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