Election night 2020

Zooming through poetry class online
for the 11th week—still not used to students’
faces in little rectangles onscreen, wishing the ones
who elect not to show their faces would—

weeks of discussing imagery and metaphor,
sonnets and villanelles, syntax and sound,
putting them into virtual rooms to write to prompts,
praising those who read aloud their brand new drafts,

when, as I’m talking, of course, the big orange cat
saunters in my office crying his siren wail,
and I can’t turn around and look at him,
though the students catch his yowl,

but I sneak a glance over my shoulder anyway
and see Diego, head bent reverently over
a dark shape whose tail curls into a question mark
and, before I can stop myself, an “oh, shit!”

falls out of my mouth, and, because they are
muted, I can’t hear my students’ chuckles,
but I add, “The cat just walked in and dropped
a dead rat on the floor… a big one,”

and someone unmutes and says (though we have
not discussed this all evening), “Well, that’s
about right for tonight.” And as I turn back to
the screen, I see them laughing—with weariness?

With relief? We are all so tired; we have reason to be.
And one of the brightest students in class
unmutes to observe in a properly academic tone,
“Well, that’s a metaphor, isn’t it?”

And we all laugh—the grinning faces of those who
allow themselves to be seen in these vulnerable moments—
and I look again—yep, it’s dead, it’s not going anywhere,
and the big cat meows mightily over his catch,

and I say, “Yes, let’s call that a metaphor;
let’s call it hope.”

Diego in a quiet moment

About janishaag

Writer, writing teacher, editor
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5 Responses to Election night 2020

  1. buzzardnotes says:

    Neat comment from your student. RE: Diego. At least he brings in dead mice. Dean loves to bring in live ones to share with me.

    • janishaag says:

      Diego and Poki bring in the live ones, too. Some time ago I had one living under my dishwasher for months before I got someone to come move the dishwasher and, thanks to a tunnel of boxes, made way for the critter to scoot outside!

  2. Donna Just says:

    OMG! He didn’t!!

    DG❤️

  3. Definitely a metaphor for the year!

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