Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Transformation: Professor

When I'm a professor, I pass by colleagues
who have plotted my death a time or two.
I like to keep my feelings hard and polished.

Other people  follow me so they can ask me questions
aimed either at tripping me up (call it
the eternal dissertation-defense) or finding
out if I accept late work. I lose my keys.

Feeling around for them in a pocket
of a tweed coat, my hand touches
dead butterflies, paper clips, and
sawdust. I sit myself in the sun
like a house plant, for I just want
to know things, I am so very weary
of being responsible for knowing things.

But then. (O, Transition!) Then
I see students walking, talking
in the sun next to brick buildings
near green trees.  Regardless
of who they are and where they
come from, I see in their affect

one thing I know for sure: a
knowledge-quest is the very best
of all human adventures, and to be
young amidst that quest is to feel
(oh, yes, I remember) as if your
mind can grasp all things.


hans ostrom 2016
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