Exit-Interview

by Mark Chmiel

She’s spent four years at SLU
And is moving on

I’ve spent fourteen years at SLU
And am moving on

We had class together fall 2008
Her tender sophomore year

We’ve met ten or twelve times since that class
Invariably in cafes and restaurants

(I never once used the “adjunct office”
For “office hours”)

And there was that spending binge downtown
At Left Bank Books right before Xmas break

I knew that she was a writer
From the student profile she turned in the first day

(Maybe I was too exuberant about it
She sometimes eyed me as if I had a screw loose)

She’d come to my mind when I’d read
What Brooklyn College teacher Allen Ginsberg said

“Older people gain vigor, refreshment, vitality, energy, hopefulness and cheerfulness
From the attentions of the young

And the younger people gain gossip, experience, advice, aid, comfort
Wisdom, knowledges and teachings from their relation with the old”

She wondered if Kerouac meant, “Accept loss forever”
Or “Accept loss forever

During the 75 minute conversation amid Café Ventana sunshine
We drank champagne

I toasted her with a clink
She took a photo of me from her fancy phone

Sitting there she looked out in the distance as if in a trance
Watching for Ecstasy to come around the corner

I didn’t tell her
That Yeats’ “For Anne Gregory” didn’t apply to her

I said “good for you!” to refuse the Fulbright and instead
To embrace Teach for America in D.C.

(Love conquers all
Besides, prestige is so overrated)

The word “soteriology” was never mentioned
The word “diarrhea” was used once

Karl Rahner never came up
But Shawn Copeland did

We agreed “women’s ordination” doesn’t go far enough
If it only installs women in hierarchical power position

(Still, I ponder
How many kids & women & men

In Catholic churches may never hear HER
Illuminate Word & World & Wonder)

There’s Marx’s thesis on Feuerbach that the philosophers have interpreted the world
The point, however, is to change it

There’s Jesus’ vision of the brokerless Kingdom of God
A program of free healing & open commensality

Broken Spanish & homesickness
Barbed wire & acrobatic empowerment–all shared

I invited her repeatedly to be guest speaker in social justice classes
For her riveting, no bullshit Nicaragua testimony

In a parallel universe Mev at 25
And she at 22 would be best pals

She’s soon to move to Washington DC
Accompanying the kiddos

She’s not got mind-reading power yet
But she knows how I am going to end this–

I can’t give her a big official prize for scholastic achievement, GPA, something quantifiable
I can only remind her of this

Alexis Mary Lassus:
“You’re a Genius all the time”