Another prose poem, this one from earlier this semester, about teaching, and teaching creative writing in particular.
Ice and Oil
I watch the children dance upon the razor’s edge. No slippers upon their feet, no music upon the breeze. Only shoes of ice and oil, threatening treachery with every step, every pace and turn and link and separation.
I’ve danced these steps before. I have fumbled these steps, teetered upon the micrometer-measured scalpel-blade of judgement. I’ve watched my own dance drip down both sides of the steel.
I watch them dance upon the razor’s edge in shoes of ice and oil and I extend a hand as my voice calls time. I slowly check their balance against the pull of gravity. Until the time comes, they must all continue to pirouette in a line. The time will come soon enough for those who can dismount to do so and for those who must fall to fall.
Their shoes are melting. Water and oil form a frictionless curtain between steel and ice.
I slowly remove my hands, and suddenly I am no longer pulling them up, but waiting below them to applaud their stride off the edge or to catch them as they fall. There are two sides to this. Dichotomy. Continuance or cessation. As simple as it can be. Occam would be proud.
I watch them dance upon the razor’s edge in shoes of ice and oil and extend my arms to catch one falling. The child scrambles, frustrated, against my grip but as I help ice-clad feet find purchase once again upon the cold-forged steel of requirement they skate off to rejoin the others, bruised ego and vertigo forgotten, lost in the dance.
I cannot let them fall. They must choose which direction they step off the razor’s edge. As long as they don’t trip or slip and make their choice whether to step off one way or another I applaud.
I watch the children dance upon the razor’s edge. No slippers upon their feet, no music upon the breeze. Only shoes of ice and oil, threatening treachery with every step, every pace and turn and link and separation. They step off, one by one, picking a direction and following it, continuing the dance out of my line of sight. One dismounts with a pirouette. I smile.