Pan (aca) demic 2020


by Melanie H.D. Sirof
I am torn in twoor two thousand twenty pieces. I am torn betweengratitude for wakingknowing a paycheck is comingat the end of the weekand fear for the childrenin my house and in their housesexams cancelledclasses cancellednew romance and glances in the hallwaycancelled. I am tornbetween Zoom and hell nawbetween rise up and hide beneath the coverstornbetween giving all of me to my studentsat the expense of my live-in childrentorn between seize the momentand the less resistant, less difficult phone it in. For in this moment there is for a momenta moment of freedoman absence of teach for the testa moment -as the world holds its inhaled breath—for education for education’s sake.Education as the preservation of historywithout the weight of gradesthe final formidable answerto “Miss, When will I need this in real life?”This unreal is real life nowand the answer is now, you will need it nowYou need this as a reason to get out of bed in the morningYou need this to remember what it felt like to be fourteen and have the solid groundyou were growing on begin to give.You need to remember what it was liketo be you right now in Marchand April and Mayof 2020 when the world shuttered its windows for awhile.As important as it might seem, as heavy and real, you will not remember.Time will pass. The future will heal you.You will recall some parts of right now --sleeping late, TikTok, cabin fever.But you will not at thirty-two recall exactly how you felt any single day of this confinement.So there is your assignment: write it, the way your English teachers have taught you,Harness the power of language for this real world wherescience and math and art and music and history couldn’t possibly be more relevant,write it down, the dream you have when you sleep, the one you reach for when you wake.