The Teacher's Reward

After the last lecture before exam week
she came down into the pit,
waiting her turn behind those who
wanted to hear what they had to know
for the final.

I was always tempted to say,
“Nothing, it’s up to you, it’s your education.”
But that would have taken longer,
and wouldn’t have made any sense
at the time, anyway.

And I didn't know her from Eve
because I had 673 students,
I’ll call them,
in three lecture sections.
She was not someone I had met.

She was not the one who had told me,
'Your exam wasn't fair, it made us think.'

Or the one whose mom was planning to come
for graduation and,
“Is there anything I can do to make up for
missing every mid-term and lab quiz? ”

Or the one whose coach wanted to know
if there was any way the seven-footer
whose name I can’t remember
could pass.

The class was 9 T-Th in sched talk
and she was a senior taking this
100-level exercise in general zoology
just to fill a chuck hole
on her otherwise macadam-smooth
road to graduation.

Her only T-Th obligation,
one she hadn't missed all semester, she said.
She wanted me to know that,
then hurried away before I could ask
her name, which I wouldn’t have anyway.

by David Wright

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