This week, we are excited to offer a new poem by Lia Greenwell. Greenwell’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the American Literary Review, Ruminate, Flyway, and Witness, among other publications. She is a graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and has received scholarships from the Rona Jaffe Foundation and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She lives in Detroit, Michigan, where she works with the InsideOut Literary Arts Project. Her website is www.liagreenwell.com.
When I began teaching creative writing to college students, I was surprised by how the boundaries of the teacher-student relationship, the safe distance I thought would exist between us, quickly began to breach. Many students faced hardships that made their way into writing and the classroom. It wasn’t possible to teach craft as if it were anatomy.
Quantum physics and Zen monks have both said that separateness is an illusion, but I’ve resisted that idea. Individuality and independence have always been great comforts to me. When I taught, however, I saw that it was impossible to not take in others’ pain, as if by osmosis. Together in class, we tried to make something of it.
This poem is from a series about this year of teaching and the black bears living in my backyard, which seemed both in danger and dangerous.
Last Day in the Mountains