Lois Marie Harrod, The Shop Teacher

Lois Marie Harrod
THE SHOP TEACHER

He wanted a student or two
who would make a table or a chair
fit for a queen, or there not being many queens,
a president, even a president of a small college
would do, a chair that would serve some years
and eventually slip into the Smithsonian,
an exhibit that would invite everyone
to come and sit, a sturdy wooden chair
that would not wear or wobble
no matter how often hands braced its arms
to stand or large bottoms squeezed into it,
and sometimes he had a student,
with more patience than the others,
careful with the band saw and the drill,
who liked the quiet contemplation of sandpaper
and varnish, who knew that art was long,
and more often a student who was wildly inventive,
designing wooden hat racks for his truck
or strange foot stools for his grandfather,
but rarely both in the same person,
the artsy ones spoiling the finish
before it was dry, the patient ones
with no invention, so most of the time
when his wife asked, how was school today,
he was happy to say, no one got hurt.

Author’s Comment: North Carolina painter Anthony Ulinksi told me that before leaving teaching, he had given up most of his goals for students; he felt relieved if he could go home and say, “No one got hurt in shop class today.” That’s where the poem began because that aspect of teaching made me sad—we artist/teachers do want to pass on our art, we want students to carry on what we began. However, in 22 years of secondary teaching, I have also seen many student accidents, overdoses and deaths. I hope the poem provides a double-edged sensibility.

Bio: Lois Marie Harrod’s 13th Collection, Fragments from the Biography of Nemesis, has just been published by Word Tech (Cherry Grove). The Only Is won the 2012 Tennessee Chapbook Contest (Poems & Plays), and Brief Term, a collection of poems about teachers and teaching was published by Black Buzzard Press, 2011. Cosmogony won the 2010 Hazel Lipa Chapbook (Iowa State). She is widely published in literary journals and online ezines from American Poetry Review to Zone 3. She teaches Creative Writing at The College of New Jersey

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