Wednesday, October 29, 2008

To the Woman (We Think You’re a Teacher) with the Books on the 2 Train

I've admitted before to being a poetry-challenged reader and, despite my best efforts over the years to fix the problem, that's a handicap that will likely be with me for the rest of my life. So you can imagine my surprise when I fell in love with a poem posted by Dewey on The Hidden Side of a Leaf. Admittedly, I have no idea whether or not this is good poetry - but I know that I like it and, for a change, I understand it. So it's a good poem by my meager standards:

To the Woman (We Think You’re a Teacher) with the Books on the 2 Train

By some anonymous students

On the platform for the 2 train
you stand with a book in your hand
the pages open
Which is how you enter the train

Sometimes you smile, or frown
Once you even cried
on the train
when you were reading Night
and a man sitting across the aisle
said he cried too, when he read that book
and we thought,
we want to read that book
so we did

And then you were reading all those
basketball books
by Walter Dean Myers
so we read those too
speeding along on the 2 train
one time you saw us reading Slam
and you said
I love that book
and do you think Slam is going to make it in high
We do, we think he’s going to make it

Then you were reading some really hard stuff
Epistemology of the Closet, Postmodern Narrative
and we tried those, but we think you have to have read
the books those authors have read, if you want to read
their books

Our favorite is when you are reading poetry
Picnic, Lightning
and you lean back against the seat
and smile
and keep reading the same page
again and again
we do that now and it’s really nice

Last week you were reading The Life of Pi
and we rushed out to buy it
So we could be in the lifeboat
adrift in the blue, blue sea
with the boy, the Bengal Tiger, and you

If we don’t see you next year
on the train
Maybe sometime we’ll bump into each other on the
You’ll know us because
we’ll have books in our hands


  1. What a wonderful poem!! Being a teacher, I especially love it! Thanks for finding it and sharing.

  2. That is a wonderful poem. And, I'm with you. I really don't know my poetry. Give Pablo Neruda or Billy Collins a try, though. I can handle them. LOL

  3. It really is great isn't it, y'all? I wonder who really wrote it - I'm not at all clear on where it comes from or might have been published, but I know it clicked for me the first time I read it - and each of the several other times I've read it since that first experience.

  4. Thanks for sharing! What a great poem that readers can relate to.

  5. Glad you enjoyed the poem as much as I did, Jeanne & Samantha.