Is she hard? Like a marble? Rolls around, refusing to pick a side. More a softie? Soft cone? Hard with a soft center? Type to assign seats? Hers or ours? Maybe scramble in the beginning and then everyone stakes their claim. How big are lectures? Microphone? Megaphone? Run like small, independent nation-states? Popular? Size of a home game? Size of a family holiday no one wants to attend? Does she command a room? Hands move like this? More like a traffic cop? Her eyes: how often do they narrow. All on one side like a flounder? Or jump from face to face. Can she silence with a look? How many? Are we expected to buckle? Down? Is she considered a pushover? Does she push back? Is she like my mother? Is anyone like my mother? How about that sign that says: your mother doesn’t work here. Would she laugh at that? Do her classes fill quickly? With tears? Are there escapees. Have they formed a support group? How often do they meet in Room 201? If you wander into class and there she stands—tall-ish but shorter later, mannerly, courtly but more like a tennis courtly, almost medieval but nothing after 1462, does she arm sweep you into a chair and give you a foot rest? Opens a bag of crisps by pulling on each side? Or squishing until it busts. Does she smoke? With the boys? Girls? The popular or unpopular girls? Is she classically pretty? Does it matter? Does it matter to her? Tests? Are they short and secure, like certain poem forms? How is her prize log? In English or a tongue that few can master, and none will speak. Knows her stuff? Knows where her stuff is kept. Where is her office? Is it down a long corridor that bends and twists and soon you’re in a jungle, pausing at the sound of a macaw, the chatter of the toucan, you duck under a waterfall and look out over the promontory, representing your ignorant brain. It’s so big! The distant call of a jaguar terrifies you into a heart-thumping free fall. Will she share her grub in the dark cave or clasp it to her chest and you have to fight her, then and there. And remember she is strong. Does she pop quiz? Pop mints? How are her unorthodoxies? Orderly? Does she post test results like a horse race? Tests essay? Assay? Multiple choice? Does she hand you a page of choices that run down one side and up the other? Similar to a diner menu? Are they all correct, given a different cultural context? Are students invited into her house each semester? To visit her art collection. Is it comprised of the heads of former students? Or wildflowers she brought back at great personal expense and presents to each as a personalized bouquet, signifying she is expert in her field, which is us.
Meridawn Duckler is a poet, playwright from Portland Oregon and the author of INTERSTATE, dancing girl press. Editor at Narrative and the philosophy journal Evental Aesthetics.