Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Teachers' Dreams

In dreams begin responsibilities
for teachers as well as others. 
I would have been a teacher 
even if I had had my druthers.

But I fell into it, as we fall asleep.
I’m always unprepared,
in front of a flock of kids,
feeling like  a rabbit, snared,

or like a retarded Einstein
who’s never  won a game
of tic-tac-toe in his life,
a fool in the Hall of Shame,

a prof with a Ph.D.
in Elementary Dopiness
who was once granted
a sabbatical for hopelessness.

In my dreams, I mean,
not in what’s called real life,
in which I have a house,
a cat, and a supportive wife,

and prepare conscientiously
for each week’s classes
and have as my minimal goal 
that every student passes,

though for most of them
the baffling past participles 
are the equivalent, in physics,
of the mysterious tiny particles

that exist in force fields,
the most basic of which is gravity,
which is everywhere and nowhere,
like T.S. Eliot’s Macavity.

Teachers’ dreams anxiously reveal 
that we’re on treadmills,
or like the deluded Quixote, 
that we’re tilting at windmills. 

Still, we beat on, us teachers,
like boats against the currents,
against the tide of ignorance,
our own as well as the students’.

But we won’t give up, knowing
like Lear, that way lies madness,
so we embrace our sullen art
and its concomitant sadness.

It beats being a Babbitt,
or selling elevator shoes,
and in the final analysis,
what have we got to lose?

We’ve still got Shakespeare,
who succeeded without the university,
teaching us life’s most important lesson:
Sweet are the uses of adversity.

           Robert Forrey, 2016

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