Reflecting on this year, or really the past 10 months, I have come to realize that there is some type of fire that I must have needed to walk through. If the kiln’s flame burns away impurities in order to leave that glossy glaze-shine on ceramic works, then my weak self must have needed to be purged as things have reached maximum Celsius as of a couple of days ago. I won’t bore you with the details, but I should like to leave some of this yuck on the page here rather than carry it around any longer. Warning: Don’t read further if you’re looking for a pick-me up.
Early in the school year, a young girl took her own life. What followed and is still following is a sordid tale of family strife and uncovered violence in the days preceding her death that has triggered all kinds of impossible emotional confrontations for myself and for many of the people around me.
Today, it is less than a week until students and staff are off on their summer hiatus. I, too, will head for time with my family in July and then a couple of self-indulgent weeks learning and working with Billy Collins at Stony Brook University in Southampton, New York. My mother, who has finally recovered, will go with me for some fun times, and for that I am eternally grateful. I have lots of fodder for poetry, so I hope the writing is rich. If it’s not, heaven help me. I hope that the fire begins to die down, I hope the glaze seals in any more oozing wounds , I hope I make it to another day in some way having grown and learned something besides how to quell erupting pain. I’m including two letters I received this week from students I taught last year in English–in good years I would find notes like these so gratifying; good kids they are to have taken time to write these kind words. I don’t include them as a boast–for me, this year, they are hard reminders of what I gave up. As Aristotle says, “We cannot learn without pain,” so I will, however much I may dread it, give this new role another shot, a clean slate on August 1. Maybe next year will be better. No more Masters/Admin classes, my daughter will be coming to the school, we are looking forward to a wedding of my son and his fiance, and through marriage we are gaining two beautiful new grandchildren. How lucky should I count myself? After what feels like a non-stop year of moral torture, it will be a relief to let it go.