for Dani

This requires math
and, as a writing teacher,
I do not math.
But let’s give it a go,
shall we? Give it the old
college try, as they
used to say.

Taught my first class
in 1984—so that’s
(counting on fingers)
37 years. But a couple
of those years—maybe
three semesters?—
I didn’t teach, so let’s
round that off to 35
years, since there’s no
question that I have
grown rounder over
three-and-a-half decades.

Of those 35 years
I taught full time for
(finger counting again)
28 years. No fewer than
five classes, usually more,
each semester, so let’s
offer a conservative
guesstimate of an average
of 20 people in each class,
which would amount to
(no need for fingers!)
100 students a semester.

That’s 56 semesters
multiplied by 100 students
(again, no fingers!)
for a total of 5,600
students over those
years, but let’s round
up to, say, 6,000
plus or minus a few

I think of those students
now, having lugged home
home boxes of old class
files, as I sort through
them one by one,
fingering roll sheets for
the last time, noting names
and final grades, before
I hand each file to a 20-
something former student
sitting cross-legged on my
living room floor, who
takes each file, uses her
slender fingers to remove
paper clips and stray metal
before carting so many
slivers of trees outside to
the big blue recycling bin.

I want to say at the end
of my final finals week
as a professor that I am
sitting in my living room
with thousands of my
former students, that their
faces line up before me in
classroom-straight rows,
that I can envision them all.
But I can’t—their smiles
and voices and words
long lost.

Except for the one before
me and others like her
in recent years, so bright
and young, at the beginning
of everything. And as I
hand her another file,
I study her face, try to
memorize it, tuck it in
that heart space labeled
cherish where, with luck,
I can count (without
fingers) on keeping
it there (along with other
beloveds) for the rest
of my time.

Danielle McKinney—super assistant!

About janishaag

Writer, writing coach, editor
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4 Responses to Resumé

  1. buzzardnotes says:

    Lovely! You are truly a wordsmith.

  2. June Gillam says:

    Marvelous!! Lacking super Danielle, I still have to sort through plump files i lugged home and saved for some other day. Mean to get to them this summer. We’ll see.

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