Soul Sucker

Freshman year,

Miss H or Mrs. H?

Not sure why I couldn't figure which one was correct.

Your initials never changed,

but your students still called you Miss instead of Mrs.

Even if I could remember what your name actually was,

It wouldn’t change anything.

I knew your reputation.

Soul sucking teacher who assigned portfolios.

I thought portfolios were some kind of design.

Who sets out designs for English?

Didn’t matter because I would have done it if you asked me to.

The RBF was in full swing,

And I knew that I didn’t want to make it worse.

Just avoid the whole situation and send someone else in there.

“Hey, you.

Want to do rock, paper, scissors to see who has to going into the room next door,

The soul sucking teacher’s room.

I can’t go in because I don’t know where the bottle cap container is,

And I don’t want to ask.

Could you do it for me please?”

The sign on the door made it worse because it showed you knew it,

But I couldn’t tell if you liked the title or not,

And I would never ask because I didn’t want to offend you.

What does soul sucker even mean?

The AP kids don’t seem soulless and they say that they get to swear in your class.

I hear that you call the sophomores babies and I am only a freshman.

Wonder what you call me.

At the beginning of my sophomore year,

You still terrified me.

Now you were actually my teacher and you were very straight to the point.

You told us what we needed to do,

And then we were to do it.

Seems simple enough,

But it was different than any English class I had before.

Maybe it was because they were treating us like babies.

But you were the one to call sophomore babies.

I thought to myself,

“I sure would hate to see how she treats her seniors”

Silent for the first month and did my work.

Good grades like usual,

But good feedback was not usual.

Most English teachers would semi-write me off

“She’s one of the top kids,

She already knows how to edit and revise”

I had no idea how to.

I had only revised once in my life,

That was because it was for a grade and I had to get an A.

Giving me my first F on an English paper,

I started to understand the soul sucking label.

Slowly and surely I started to get a feel for your personality.

Sarcastic and nervous,

But appreciated sarcasm back.

I asked some questions,

Kind of testing my limits.

Never asked them during class period,

And of course not on topic.

Slowly started to understand your teaching and how I should write,

But then came those dreaded portfolios.

I could not understand them to save my life.

I didn’t understand how I was supposed to tell you that I learned something.

What if I thought I learned it,

But then you read it and realized I had no idea.

Maybe that’s a teacher’s job.

To teach.

But to mentor.

Somewhere in the mix of things I got more comfortable in your class.

I even told you to watch Grey’s Anatomy.

You said it sounded dumb.

Then I found we have mutual connections.

That was something to talk about and relate back to my life.

Then you started to tell your life story,

I love life stories.

Especially ones that aren’t simple and perfect,

Because mine might be simple and perfect to someone else

But to me,

It’s not.

Yours seemed not perfect and simple to others,

But to you,

It seemed perfect.

You always told us to,

“Make good choices”

I took it to heart at first,

But didn’t think you actually meant it,

So I stopped.

Nothing bad,

But not “good” choices.

That was the year,

Tara and I had study hall the same hour you had prep.

We could tell that you were struggling some day,

I wondered if you were making “good” choices.

Of course I never asked because I was afraid I’d cross a line.

So naturally,

We hung around and sat awkwardly in your classroom,

Doing nothing productive,

Hating ourselves later because of it.

Some days you’d do workouts during prep.

I just thought you were doing them to say you did it.

Maybe that’s why everyone worksout.

To say we did something productive.

You taught us that some days,

You just need to do something for yourself.

Made me think back to my thought that someone close to you wasn’t making “good choices”.

We would sometimes do it with you,

But then we didn’t and we just talked.

One of my many stressed days,

I finally decided I was going to ask for your opinion.

I asked if I could seriously talk,

And the look on your face was… different.

Couldn’t tell if you were shocked,

Or surprised,

Or excited.

So I closed the door and sat down.

Expressing myself when I’m on the spot is intense.

So intense that I sweat,

And shake,

And stutter.

But I just started talking and I think you could sense the nerves in my voice,

And you knew it was important.

I told you about my brother.

Which was hard.

And you had him in class that year too,

And I knew that he wasn’t on your nice list.

You listened and I almost cried.

Tara was there for moral support.

But I waited to the end of the hour to talk,

I had to convince myself that I could bring it up.

It was helpful that I finally talked about it and didn’t hold it in.

You gave me some advice and you told me one of your personal experiences.

You helped me realize that it is not on my shoulders,

It is not my fault and things will blow over.

You did not belittle my story,

Even if you may have thought it was nothing.

You showed me how I can cope with life events,

You didn’t avoid the story,

But addressed it head on.

After that I continued to tell you some updates on him,

Even though you saw him everyday.

Maybe you saw another side to him,

I may never know.

You shared your life events,

We finally guessed that you were going to have a kid.

So many questions arose from that.

Comparing and contrasting experiences,

Showing how you moved on.

Past experiences do not determine destiny,

Reactions and growth do.

The fear of moving on in life,

You helped me cope with.

Not sure what to do,

How to react,

How to move on,

You reassured me that it’s not the end,

Even if it may feel like so,

And that everyone has those days,

And weeks,

And time periods in their life.

The award you gave me at the end of the year,

That affected me more than you knew.

I felt like I was awarded it because I actually earned it.

Not because I was simply the best,

Or most talented.

Beginning of junior year,

New emotions and felt like new person.

Didn’t even recognize myself,

But you let me spend almost an hour in your room,

Never kicked me out without reason,

Listened to me complain,

And ramble,

And sit awkwardly.

Even so,

It was enough.

More than enough.

Enough to make me realize that I needed to move on.

Started by asking small questions last year,

To asking about how you moved on from an abusive relationship.

Asked about your daughter’s name,

To asking about what I should do after a bad night out.

Big or little events in my life,

You helped me as a mentor in my life.

Not as a friend,

Or mom,

Or sister,

But as a mentor.

Someone who can guide,

Motivate,

And Inspire in life.

You have seen so many emotions that no one sees,

But one day I aspire to have some of your characteristics.

To be able to guide someone in their life,

To be able to make a difference.

Even if it’s someone who is terrified of me,

Who can’t even remember my name.

Thank you for pushing me,

For not putting me aside as a talented student.

For not letting me slip behind.

For not letting me keep making bad decisions.

Thank you for being there.

Even when I was awkward,

Or nervous,

Or terrified,

Or excited,

Or content.

Thank you for becoming the person you wanted to be.

Thank you for being a mentor to me.

 

This poem is about: 
My community

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