It sidles up next to you, standing closer than you like, as usual, with its offering plate.

On top is the lesson you prepared after eleven last night. You and the middle-schoolers will be reading about Jesus busting up the temple.  You like that story, and you think they will also because it comes unexpected. They like you more than you expected, and you like them, too, which is why you teach them On Top of Everything Else.

You have 22 freshman essays to read before Wednesday, including Collin’s, for once.

There’s 57 pages of Dante to read this afternoon if you count the introductory material. You’ve never read Dante—really!—but you assigned it this semester because you felt it was about time you did.

The 30 pages of Derrida and Foucault you have read before, though the truth is that won’t matter with these two. Count on four hours.

Your boys appear before you wearing the burgundy lipstick you bought for the Halloween party last fall.  The lipstick careens beyond the boundaries of their lips.  They look like they have been killing chickens with their teeth.  You should be dismayed—we need to be leaving in three minutes, David announces—but other details keep swarming into your line of vision: the unruly trochees and anapests from last Friday’s failed scansion lesson; Collin arriving fifteen minutes late to class and then peeling an orange, right there in the front row, extending an easy smile as way of apology, his white teeth lined up in disciplined, military rows.

We need to get gas after church, David adds, and we’re out of cereal. The bathroom wastebasket is overflowing—from the corner of your eye the wadded Kleenexes look like anemic peonies cascading across the black mouth of the plunger.

You are certain Collin is still sleeping, and you suspect he might end up enjoying his Sunday more than you will enjoy yours.

Perhaps next week you will decline the descent into Sunday.  Perhaps today you will sit on the front row and write a poem, one free of rhyme or meter, during the sermon—a poem, you admit, no one, save Collin, has time to read.


Kristin Van Tassel

Kristin Van Tassel teaches writing and American literature at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas. She writes essays and poetry about place, teaching, motherhood, and travel. Her work has appeared in literary, academic, and travel publications, including The Chronicle of Higher Education, World Hum, ISLE, The Journal of Ecocriticism, The Los Angeles Review of Books, About Place, and Temenos.

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