Happy Thanksgiving!

Community College

I love the stained carpets,
the broken equipment,
the valiant IT guys who keep trying
to fix things, showing up like
Jedi with giant coffee cups.
I love the single remaining, hard-used
computer lab, and the inadequate
parking that brings out students’
predatory instincts. I love that there
have been fistfights over spaces,
and that everyone drives a junker.
I love the cafeteria line, where
 who were never fed at home can get
turkey and dressing every Thursday,
and tacos, reliably, on Tuesdays.
I love the part-time, adjunct
faculty working like the crew of
this nation’s Titanic to unlock
the gates in steerage for those
coming up behind them. I love
the teenagers with pierced lips,
and the old heavyweights, like me,
struggling for breath on the stairs,
hauling five hundred dollars worth
of knowledge in a backpack on wheels.
I love the thrill and terror in the eyes
of these people who have seen it all,
and still not given up. And yes,
I love even the swastika tattoo I glimpsed
on someone’s back in the financial aid line,
because it is behind him now, because
he is here for something more than skin deep,
something more painful than ink:
he is here to learn something
he does not already know.

Barbara Sullivan, August 2009
Writing teacher from Lane Community College in Oregon


About Teaching it Forward

We are high school language arts teachers in Oregon.
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