Tears Provoked

Grief. One gets it. When one writes one gets grief.

One of its sources is teachers.

Take "Anecdotal Evidence" by Daryl Hine in A Reliquary and Other Poems. The anecdote in question is set up by reflection upon the nature of sleep and secret keeping.

Night after night a horrible hiatus,
Unfathomably deep and dreamless sleep
Seals secrets it hardly seemed worthwhile to keep
Some even greater than, at least as great as
This. One time I was upbraided by
Mr. Sweet in Social Studies Class—
That prudish prick, that homophobic ass!—
For writing a poem to another guy.
My indignation then did not surpass
My shame today that he could make me cry.
This is vivid for me since when I was an adolescent, I too experienced an adult reducing me to tears. I went to high school in Kapuskasing. I loved writing. I was very proud when the April 1978 Poetry Toronto Newsletter published a villanelle that I had composed. The poem was dedicated to my English teacher Mrs. Sadie Keyes. I of course gave her a copy. She showed it to colleagues in the staff room. The vice-principal thought the piece was horrible in the treatment of its subject and called me in for a stiff redressing (I ended up in tears but had the presence of mind to go directly to Mrs. Keyes herself to ascertain her reaction). She was pleased with my effort and during the course of our conversation provided me with great advice: "Don't let Life get in the way." Which meant for me permission to dedicate myself to writing (and to use what may come my way in the effort). The incident in retrospect captures what the poem called "Old Women and Her Creation" was meant to show: her creation is the dreaming of a writer [She had told a class that she once wanted to be a writer and still did; the poem builds upon the expression of the wish and envisions a new torch bearer to the dream]. Of course after the vice-principal's interpretation I bent to revising the poem. Here are the two endings:
Frustrated dreamer,           She fosters a dreamer,
older, lonelier           whiter, lonelier
cold in her winter,           cold in her winter,
she has lost laughter           She has last laughter:
there remains no myth.           there remains no myth.
She dreamt a writer           Some scribler dreams her
cold in her winter           warm in his winter
1978           1980
A few words — a different temperature. Revisited thanks to another's memories of crying.

And so for day 300