How to Teach Poetry During a Pandemic

Today is April 3, 2020
But for us it is Day 15
Of the year that has dragged for
A thousand years and will - who can say -
Drag for a thousand thousand more.

Really, I have no reason to complain
Sitting at my kitchen table in the stretched-out sweatshirt
I’ve had since high school
My middle child - the Pixie - sitting beside me
Watching Tinkerbell on a device her grandmothers could never envision

The news seeks me out without my consent
I feel guilty for hating New York, with it’s grime and fake gold and
The eternal enemy of Brady and Welker and Harrison, of Varitek and
(those names mean nothing to my students, I’m sure)
But even so, I was raised with a healthy hatred of New York in my veins.

But now that city’s raging, like Philadelphia in seventeen-something,
And I was also raised to love my enemy
Although I don’t always follow through.

So now I sit in a warm house a state away from my birth
(populated by cows and no street lights and rich kids with lake houses, or so
we were told)
I have cabinets filled with pasta and Cheez-Its and coffee
And a mountain of citrus fruits hauled in from some uninfected tropical
Sitting temptingly on my countertop.

I sit here at seven in the morning with a cup of coffee and a headache
To make a Poem Analysis Worksheet for my students
Because I am supposed to teach them that Analyzing Poetry is Very Very
And will be Used All The Time In High School and Will Help You In College and
Will Be The Final Summative For The Rest Of Your Life

But my 8th graders know better, and so do I.