That there is smoke between where I (and the students) lived and where the president lives

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I am not a goodbye artist. I don't know the words. I get sick at the thought, and then I just plain get sick, and I was a fraction of myself today in English 135. 

I'd made the students chapbooks of their work and carried them across campus in my bag.  I'd run to the campus grocer's (for grapes and strawberries, cheese and bagel crisps, chips and salsa, carrot cake and chocolate) and then to Kelly Writers House (for platters and for the knife with which I'd eventually slice the tip of my index finger off). It was a muggy day, and my heart was heavy, and in the midst of it all, I stopped right here and took my camera out.

To the left is the building in which I taught my sweet sixteen.  To the right is where Amy Gutmann, Penn's president, lives.  The smoke in the middle is what interests me. The ephemera. The mystery. Of what gets taught, and what remembered. Of what lives, and lives.

I don't imagine that Amy Gutmann knows who I am. I can't imagine that she could imagine how much I loved her kids. These University of Pennsylvania students who were mine each Tuesday afternoon, who believed in me because (perhaps mostly) I believed in them. 

"Don't go anywhere," I told them.  Or, "Don't go far."

But does the smoke rise, or does it fall, and can it hold us?

Time will tell.


Becca said...

They will find their way back to you, in words, in thoughts, in your memories of them and what you learned from them.

You must be an amazing teacher :)

Vivian Mahoney said...

I agree with Becca. What a wonder it must have been to be able to teach these young people! I'm sure you've left an indelible mark on them. You have a beautiful way of seeing and writing about the world...what a gift you must've been to your students! XOXOX

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