Saturday, November 08, 2008

My Poem of the Year Nomination

Did I Miss Anything
by Tom Wayman

Question frequently asked by
students after missing a class

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 per cent of the grade for this term
and assigned some reading due today
on which I'm about to hand out a quiz
worth 50 per cent

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 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 this 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 existence
assembled for you to query and examine and ponder
gathered

but it was one place

And you weren't here


***

Please visit the original online so you can get the spacing blogger won't allow:
U of Toronto Library - Canadian Poets: Tom Wayman
Originally from: The Astonishing Weight of the Dead
Vancouver: Polestar, 1994.

3 comments:

Doug P. Baker said...

That is great! I wish I were still teaching so I could take a stack of these and hand them out every time someone asked, "Did I miss anything?" They wouldn't last long!

Nik's Blog said...

That's terrific. Thanks for posting.

(Stumbled here via Tania Hershman's blog.)

Nik

Benjamin Vogt said...

I read this every first day of every class I've taught--all 24 of them.