Love in the Classroom – for my students

Afternoon. Across the garden, in Green Mall,
someone begins playing the old piano—
a spontaneous piece, amateurish and alive,
full of a simple, joyful melody.
The music floats among us in the classroom.

I stand in front of my students
telling them about sentence fragments.
I ask them to find the ten fragments
in the twenty-one sentence paragraph on page forty-five.
They’ve come from all parts
of the world—Iran, Micronesia, Africa,
Japan, China, even Los Angeles—and they’re still
eager to please me. It’s less than half
way through the quarter.

They bend over their books and begin.
Hamid’s lips move as he follows
the tortuous labyrinth of English syntax.
Yoshie sits erect, perfect in her pale make-up,
legs crossed, quick pulse minutely
jerking her right foot. Tony,
from an island in the South Pacific, sprawls
limp and relaxed in his desk.

The melody floats around and through us
in the room, broken here and there, fragmented,
re-started. It feels mideastern, but
it could be jazz, or the blues—it could be
anything from anywhere.
I sit down on my desk to wait,
and it hits me from nowhere—a sudden,
sweet, almost painful love for my students.

“Nevermind,” I want to cry out.
“It doesn’t matter about fragments.
Finding them or not. Everything’s
a fragment and everything’s not a fragment.
Listen to the music, how fragmented,
how whole, how we can’t separate the music
from the sun falling on its knees on all the greenness,
from this moment, how this moment
contains all the fragments of yesterday
and everything we’ll ever know of tomorrow!”

Instead, I keep a coward’s silence.
The music stops abruptly;
they finish their work,
and we go through the right answers,
which is to say
we separate the fragments from the whole.

~ Al Zolynas

Previous Next

One Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Kennedy
    Jan 02, 2011 @ 21:39:01

    I think this poem is about a teacher sitting in her desk watching all her students read about all the different topics and imagining what they are thinking about and imagining . I think this because it says in the third stanza ,( Tony from an island in the south pacific , sprawls limp and relaxed in his desk . )Basically i think the teacher is enjoying the atmosphere of learning going on . Also i think when it says ,( the melody floats around and through us ), i don’t think it means an actual melody like from a song i think it means as a learning melody . Over all i think this is about a beginner teacher who is just looking around her class room and noticing a learning melody in her head . She also i think is trying to imagine what all the kids are thinking and wondering about .
    Plus i hope every one will have a wonderful new year !!!!!! Happy New Years !!!!!! (not apart of the poem .!!!)

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.