by Jeff Oaks
August is the end of summer for me. It’s the month of preparing syllabi for teaching. It’s the month of book orders and rereading or reading texts, as opposed to books or stories or simply for pleasure and escape. It’s the month of stress eating if I’m not careful. It’s a month of planning and copying and uploading and stapling and arranging and revising. The first week of the month is denial: “Stop thinking about work; it’s not time yet.” The second week is panic: “why didn’t I get this fucking shit done in May when I could have???” There has been a lot of stress eating, pints of expensive artisanal gelato this year. The third week is orientation to the new reality: cleaning the office, stapling the new syllabi, stacking the books I’ll use neatly on my desk, arranging the composition notebooks I give my students on the first day, assessing my stores of English Breakfast tea, washing out my big mugs, my aspirin, my men’s health vitamins, my uniball micro pens, my post-its, my paper clips and binder clips. At the end of the month is teaching at last. It’s almost a relief at that point to only have to stand up there and make other people do the weird and beautiful work of writing.
Here a poem by Niall Campbell, a Scottish poet, The Letter Always Arrives At Its Destination.
Writing assignment for those who want one: write about something, maybe a message that never arrived. Use the words bottle, sand, weed, America, Hebrides, and gift somehow in your piece.