By Jessica Kirzane
We’re at a point at which
We know nothing
About who we are.
Immersed in facts
We drown in uncertainty
And search for evidence
On which to ground our sense of self
We are yearning to teach pasts
Something of ourselves.
The new that infuses us
With energy and rebellion
Fills our lungs, our mouths.
Yet, still, the words we choose
Are needles sewing guilt into
The fibers of our conversation.
But what is the mother tongue
That kisses us awake,
The father tongue whose sentences were
Deftly, lovingly diagrammed
By a linguist who more often spoke some other
More highly regarded language,
The tongue of gossip that whispers in our ears
In information networks
Linking us to some other land?
And when can the legacies of feeling
Reverse themselves so we can
Reach backward and forward
Both giving and taking?
I’d like us to break with the
Assumptions that the classroom
Is sterile as its barest walls.
Could it be the maternity ward
Of some new relation to language and the self
And to each other?
I’m asking about the
Continuity of the classroom
In which I bequeath what I teach
In ways intimate and obstinate
In song and celebration or
Dry and pedantic perhaps but still
Kindling for students’ communication.
I’m thinking about the
Commitment to the community of the classroom:
Not the overabundance of longing to become
One with some past,
But the generous gift of our time together
The exchange of words wrapped in care.
There are no rubrics to evaluate
The pleasure taken in a voice become familiar
After weeks of shared speech.
How did we reach this point
After all the reading and research
And remaking of the self?
And could it be possible to try to stay here,
Settle and build a home for ourselves
In this sea of hesitation
And productive improbability?