First class

21 Apr

I arrive five minutes before class begins. The room took time finding. I had to wind through the hallways of an old church, climb a flight of stairs and wind through some more hallways. Room 302 is small, tucked between two larger rooms. A window across from the doorway lets in light, and the old markings that are never really erased show on the whiteboard to the left. A few stray markers that probably wouldn’t work if tested rest in the ledge in front of it. The room is white, empty. I sit in one of the seats at a table that makes a square shape, mimicking the room itself. It is 8:20 a.m., and I wait. I take out a new notebook, new pen. I wait for my first class on the first day of my first ever poetry class to begin. The professor arrives, and strides to the seat opposite me at the table in what seem three fluid movements. He unwinds his red scarf and plucks off his cap. His button down shirt is wrinkled at the collar and cuffs. They are wrinkled every day, I would learn. He had higher priorities than standing at an ironing board, and I liked him very much for that. It is in his class, over the next few months, that I would learn the sacredness of language. Even more, I would fall in love with words themselves.

Soon others arrive. Jasmine, a big girl who I would later learn always arrived at least five minutes late and who struggled to remember her home work. But oh could she write. Give her five minutes to write something, and she would have us laughing, or, sometimes, crying. It does not take her long, once she’s in the room. There is Katie, both of whose parents died tragically. It showed in her work. She wears her blond hair in braids, and she is brave, volunteering when no one else will to read aloud her work. Mark, a freshman, is by far the best. He is dark yet dresses dapper, often wearing hats and suit coats to class. His poems show technique when the rest of us are just learning what it is. Brandon tries perhaps harder than anyone else, and it shows. He raises his hand first, always critiques others first, is unfailingly literal. Which makes poetry, by its very nature, exceptionally difficult for him. More than once, the professor tells him to quit talking. He looks in these moments as if it were a terrible shame because he was about to reveal the contents of the novel he is writing, and we are all missing something wonderful.

Our homework is to write a list of words that are, to us, pleasing to hear. Words we enjoy the sound of. I go back to my broken fouton in my dorm room, rip off a blank sheet of paper from my notebook and think. I never before considered which words I enjoyed the sound of, which words that, when rolling off my tongue, were pleasing to say and to hear. I realize I like words with soft sounds, words like “lagoon” and “moon.” So I write down my twenty words, filling my head and notebook with soft, pleasing words.

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One Response to “First class”

  1. Grayquill April 24, 2011 at 6:00 am #

    Good one – I never would have passed a poetry class.

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