#73: Unstuck In Time (Don’t Know Much About History)


The student reading a William Stafford
poem mistakes the 1930’s for
The Civil War in America—when, you know,
there were electric elevators.
The first impulse, if only
inside of a thought bubble, is to make fun,
but the second, more reflective response
is a deep sadness. The kid is unstuck in time
and unstuck in culture,
has no idea when the Civil War took place,
probably believes the elevator man in Stafford’s poem
was a slave, and countless other pieces
missing altogether, the result of more
days of school missed than attended,
and the ones attended, for her, ill suited,
and who knows what else in her life
and the lives of her family prevented
her from learning the most basic
fundamentals of American history.
I don’t hold it against her.
Instead, I am angry about the circumstances
that lead to this kind of ignorance,
feel that she has been cheated in some
significant and grievous way
against which I am totally ill prepared
and unsupported to do meaningful battle in her defense.

Published by michaeljarmer

I'm a public high school English teacher, fiction writer, poet, and musician in Portland, Oregon

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