THE ADJUNCT’S VILLANELLE
You just come in and teach, then you can go,
she says, distracted by her tenure file.
I wish someone would tell my students so.
From there I leave to meet with one who’s slow
to understand the work. It takes a while
to teach him what he needs. Then, I can go.
Another texts: the fetus didn’t grow.
She’s on bed rest for weeks. Can I compile
the work she’ll miss? I can, and tell her so.
Two student emails wait: one’s in a show
and really wants me there. Good kid. I smile
and write back saying I’ll be thrilled to go.
The second wants a reference. Just say no,
I’m told. I could, but cannot reconcile
this with the student I remember. So,
the one whose mom died doesn’t need to know
my story, how I have to swallow bile
when I hear how I come, and teach, and go.
I don’t. I wish someone would tell them so.
—from Rattle #53, Fall 2016
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