My Colby-Sawyer Experience

“This work is my ministry,” she says, “and I've been placed on our Earth for this reason. Helping the poor is one of the areas that gives my life great meaning.”
Photographer Jill Booth Macdonell '57



Light wet on brown leaves,
4 fathoms below me
autumn dawns on the Puritan quad.

Here, journalism students
slump in industrial desk chairs,
waking into their names.

And I see the black eraser

on the work stand beside
the white plastic
flat screen computer monitor:

in our new smart classroom,

a black coffin of language.

I heft it:
sole of a Price Chopper shoe,
burned heel of Nazi boot.

All words ever on the blackboard
behind me
are in this eraser.

Decayed casket Ishmael rode.

And I think all of Bush's words
and stories of Iraq
are in this eraser.

Fossil tongue of mammoth dead
By fire.

One word in here means both
sand and death
but I cannot find it.

If we do not speak the old bodies….

I know another word in here
means flame and cash
but I do not know how to say it.

If we do not find the old names….

The students know, think it fair
their parents and I will lose
our lives and names in this.

I remember clapping erasers
cleaning them after school
as detention from a teacher,

puffs of white smoke
rising from the concrete steps
where I huddled from Russian.

We crashed, as stocks or towers,

maybe we were over Scotland,

maybe we were invading Carthage
or Georgia.

I know the black box with its names
for old pain and disaster eludes us.

I am holding a black eraser
as I start to explain
how we report hard news.

-Mike MacMahon

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