I didn’t think I’d be writing anything this week, because I have all the end of semester marking to do and very limited time. But I couldn’t resist having a quick look to see what Eugi’s prompt was when I knocked off for the night – and then couldn’t resist when I saw it was “everlasting“. So here is my response; a homage to Eliot and a cry for help… well, marking support anyway…
Let us go then, you and I,
when the exams and essays are piled high,
– all those plagiarised or incompetent –
and with no tutor to whom they can be sent.
The red ink curved once around the mark,
and, seeing that it was a clear pass,
drew a smiley face, and moved on.
In the exam hall the students come and go,
showing just how little they know.
And what if yet another one should show
that they have not understood –
– not understood what I meant at all?
Do I dare to give a zero?
But in a week there is no time
for decisions and revisions –
when a hundred portfolios need grading,
and once grades are uploaded,
any edit is a crime…
And would it have been worth it after all?
To squeeze the paper into a ball,
toss it in the bin and enter
an F into the sreadsheet?
For that one will come again, next year
back again into my class – another repeat.
And I have known all these solutions already,
all these ill-formulated phrases –
the “negation of friction” and “proven hypothesis”
noted grammar, content and calculation errors –
I have pinned them all,
to the rubric.
I grow old, I grow old,
my head between my hands I hold…
I have wept and binged, wept and raved,
The office smells of coffee,
and with chocolate wrappers it is paved.
I have measured out my life with lab reports…
I will spread out on the floor,
like one etherised upon a table.
Have I remembered to lock the door?
My colleagues already suspect I am unstable.
Through my window I see students wander by,
their voices, almost human, calling each to each –
but they do not call to me,
and if they did I would not answer,
for here, in piles of their portfolios,
this everlasting grading,
I am already drowned.