Why I Teach: A Poem

For National Poetry Month, we departed from our typical prose-only style to present this special Why I Teach column.
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Editor’s Note: For National Poetry Month, we’ve departed from our typical prose-only style to present this special Why I Teach column.  


if I did not teach

i would leave the high-rise office complex
and take home an empty briefcase
that was polished and shiny and had bright brass hinges that would gleam in the light

i would wear high-heeled shoes that would match my suit
and would distract my clients
in the middle of another one of my brilliant sales pitches
or cross examinations
or board meetings
or project presentations
or working business luncheons

i would be able to interact all day
talking to people all over the world
in rushed conversations, imagining what their faces looked like while
on my cell
or blackberry
or twitter
or the next and new sort of electronic pulse

but i do teach

so i walk in to a room of pieced-together furniture
and worn out carpet, stained after years of a dripping furnace
holding a backpack of papers filled with ideas and hopes and things that scare them

i wear faded clogs that help me to get to
the one that needs me to read over this poem
it shows what they really think
or are trying to understand
or are angry about
or hope and imagine something they can someday be

i interact all day
explaining the movement of iambic pentameter
and the stylistic use of a fragment
and the importance of exposing their critical analysis of a piece of literature
and hurriedly answer,


           you can go to the bathroom
                    but only if you take a pass
                           and make it quick, we have lots to do

and because i teach

i am a complete person, without any feelings of emptiness or regret or yearning for something else

because i see faces of those who will transform
what we do and how we do it and what that new someday will turn into
and always remind me of the
and twisting
and kneading
and simmering
that every year brings


i do teach.