Sat in the back of my classroom.
“My friend, who’s visiting from New York,
Wanted to join us today,” I say to the class.
Her visit has distracted me
From my usual preparations,
But I know this stuff, and these students,
And her presence electrifies me.
My hands shape ideas more fully,
My eyes look into students’ more carefully.
(Avoiding hers, and too much desire?)
The calculus is alive.
I ask, “Why do we set this equal to zero?”
Rebecca, usually shy, tells us,
“To find the highest point, where the slope is zero...”
And finishes with her hands shaping the idea.
After class is over and students are gone
She tells me how good it was to watch.
She, the playwright, saw drama in my classroom.
“They so wanted to get it.”
At first I am shocked by how good I was,
Much better than usual.
Then I blush, hoping my students
Never know quite why...
April 14, 2001