by Janet McCann
The box I’m using to take my office home
Has printed on it in sharpie black, TAKE
YOUR OWN PAPER ONLY. I used it
Every semester. I sat in the office grading,
Bringing the papers out in sets of five.
The students would come prowling by to riffle
Through the stacks hoping to find their own.
Now and then someone took a friend’s
As a favor. But this caused problems,
Hence the directive. As I read each paper
I pictured the student’s face, her hands,
Her clothes, even her tats. It was a gift, that paper,
To me and to the awakening of knowledge.
My comments were careful and lengthy,
Considering her words, her goals, her life.
Now of course there are no papers outside offices.
They come in and they go out through machines
And sometimes they are written by machines.
And no one would leave anything in the hall
For students to pick up. The place is empty.
And I am a ghost, haunting my only life.