Melancholy Hyperbole

Poetry about longing.


She’s an immature sophomore, broad of beam, heavy, with flaming red hair, and a round, pale face. When she takes my class, she’s hurting badly: often as she walks through the quad, kids throw food at her; they call her Whale and Porker.

Finally she announces she’s quitting school. I don’t belong here. Everyone puts me down! she wails. Go on independent study, I advise. You can take time off and work on your diploma.

I don’t see her for a year, but when she returns, she wears a jewel in her nose, dresses in black, gives Tarot readings. Once after I allow an Ouija board to be demonstrated in my peer counseling class, I hear she’s worried about me; I might have riled the spirits.

Still, she’s warm as ever. When we meet, we hug. I notice she has no more trouble from the kids: no one calls her names although she hasn’t lost a pound. In fact some seem in awe of her.

What do you think of that girl Tanis? asks a colleague disapprovingly. She’s made an unusual adaptation, I reply.
She used to be an outcast, but the kids respect her now that she’s become the campus witch.
John Laue, a former teacher, editor of Transfer, and Associate Editor of San Francisco Review, has six published books of poetry to his credit plus one of prose, The Columns of Joel Mobius, a guide for people with psychiatric diagnoses. Besides editing The Monterey Poetry Review, an on-line journal, and coordinating a long-running reading series for The Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium, he has served as Co-Chair of the Santa Cruz County Mental Health Advisory Board.

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