Ode for My Department Chair Who Left a Face Shield on My Desk
Because all of this is seeing through
complex prisms; seeds reconciling
to stalks that lean grey-blue instead of
the expected, upright green. Because
the soil we trusted, turned, and patted
on our knees became unresponsive, a sick
child’s pale serene. Because birds and
song became a dull-working machine.
Because this exchange called teaching
is more than granting access, pointing
to open gates. Because Sophocles portrayed
us as we ought to be; but Euripides
portrayed us as we are: surprisingly unstayed
and dying a happy death in front of them.
Breath after breath. Because care in a time
like this is not a stockpiling of perfect arguments,
pleas and refrains as if part of a lesson plan –
or worse, the cliché – something preordained.
Because master and apprentice should look
the same. Smithies hammering, melding,
iron and steel. Because metals, once coupled
with the right vistas and bent into shapes –
a cruciform, time’s infinite wheel – were
in a previous plague, thought to heal.