Did I Miss Anything?

03 Oct

This poem is a favorite of my students (and me, well, I’m the one who introduced it to them). I wanted to share it with you, because I think it’s just so sharp and eloquent.

I think Fridays might become poetry days. Let me know what you think (of the poem and the Poetry Fridays).

Did I Miss Anything?

Tom Wayman

Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours

     Everything. I gave an exam worth
     40 percent of the grade for this term
     and assigned some reading due today
     on which I’m about to hand out a quiz
     worth 50 percent

Nothing. None of the content of this course
has value or meaning
Take as many days off as you like:
any activities we undertake as a class
I assure you will not matter either to you or me
and are without purpose

     Everything. A few minutes after we began last time
     a shaft of light suddenly descended and an angel
     or other heavenly being appeared
     and revealed to us what each woman or man must do
     to attain divine wisdom in this life and
     the hereafter
     This is the last time the class will meet
     before we disperse to bring the good news to all people
          on earth.

Nothing. When you are not present
how could something significant occur?

     Everything. Contained in this classroom
     is a microcosm of human experience
     assembled for you to query and examine and ponder
     This is not the only place such an opportunity has been

     but it was one place

     And you weren’t here


Posted by on October 3, 2008 in Poems, Teaching


Tags: , ,

7 responses to “Did I Miss Anything?

  1. The Babysitter

    October 3, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    I’m very bad with poems. So I’m not sure if I got it. What’s it trying to say?

  2. frumcollegegirl

    October 3, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    oh i love this poem! i had a teacher that read it to us the first day of school. awesome

    and i love the idea of poetry day. when i was in school i was the only freak in my class who like poetry. in fact, i recited Casey at Bat from memory in eighth grade. and i can still remember all the words today!

  3. tooyoungtoteach

    October 3, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    Glad you like poetry!

    But I never liked Casey at Bat, I felt bad for the guy, just becuase I have a thing for records, not because cared about his massive ego

  4. frumcollegegirl

    October 5, 2008 at 7:11 am

    ha. well i loved it from the first second i read it. not so much for the storyline, but for its simple rythm.

    hey my lil sister does the whole “qoth the raven” thingie. drives me insane.

  5. Bas~Melech

    October 5, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    “Did I miss anything?”
    Favorite question of teachers everywhere. 😛
    Love it.

  6. WaxGirl

    October 6, 2008 at 5:24 am

    Hey, I finally made it. Told you I would eventually. I like the poem, where’d you find it? Know who this is yet? 😉

  7. tooyoungtoteach

    October 6, 2008 at 5:44 am

    Hi F., the NYU email address gave you away


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