Needing a respite from the relentless grading that occurs at this time of year, I thought I would share something I read this morning with you. After I have finished grading state standardized exams and local benchmark exams I finally get the chance to look at the projects my own students have submitted at the end of the year. My seventh graders have been experimenting with poetry. Many of them loath it, especially at first, but slowly and eventually many of them create something beautiful. Here is one of the poems that I read this morning.
I gave you everything I had.
I loved you, I held you when you were sad.
Like sisters, you and me.
I was the beach and you were the sea.
And after all these years
You left me in tears.
I thought you were my best friend.
That you would be there ’til the end.
I believed and trusted you
And all that you said.
You were everything to me.
But then you tossed me out.
Like a teenager getting rid of you favorite childhood toy.
I need you, I need you, I need you.
And I need you now more than ever.
I need you to tell me to do my homework and to watch my language.
I need you to talk to me and love me like we used to.
I have everything you gave me.
All the birthday cards, the postcard from greece, the shirt.
I hold them on my pillow at night and talk to them.
Like I used to talk to you.
Waiting for an answer, waiting for you to hug me,
To tell me everything’s okay.
That you’ll take me back forever and always.
My angel, I need you to tell me those things.
But you never will.
I gave you all I had . . . And I always will.
I honestly got a little misty when I read that. I thought it was too good to be original so I googled it to check and it seems to be an original. My existential question is how do I now assign a number to this work of art that means anything? While her classmates are writing about Xbox cheat codes, she has gotten it. She has created something truly beautiful and assigning it a grade, even a 100 diminishes it somehow. I want to meet with her and nurture this talent, tell her that I appreciate the way she has put words together and suggest other poets she might like. But I am certain she will want to know what she got on it. What have we done?