When Grades Are Everything

by Mark Chmiel

Dear Henry

Once I had a student who was my age
Shameeka Smith was in her second marriage
Getting her BA
And taking good care of herself

She appreciated the class
Because we wrote freely in notebooks
Actually talked with one another
Everything was so laid back (but also, oddly, everything was so intense)

We’d chat after class
She’d tell me stories
From her life as a police officer
“Now you know why I need that Thich Nhat Hanh!”

Her beat in the old days
Included one of the large universities
One night she got a call to go over there
For a suicide

She told me, “Young girl
Asian
She left a note for her parents:
‘Dear mom and dad

I am so sorry
I brought shame on the family
I am so sorry
I got a B'”

After a minute Shameeka said to me
“I wonder if her parents can sleep”
Last night Tanya told me
Her sister killed herself during her second year of med school

Perry

Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine

Advertisements