The student mentions her issue with run-offs. I picture storm water finding an exit from
the streets. Hog waste sneaking into a family well. Finally, I read her essay and see what she
means. Black letters have escaped the page’s margins, have fled from format and rectangular
“How do I keep them here?” she asks.
I suggest a lasso, rounding words up like cattle.
She shakes her head, says, “I’m no good at throwing and looping.”
Handing her a plastic bowl, I say, “Hold the Tupperware at the edge of the printer.”
She gives it back and shakes her head. “Already tried that.”
“If you had run-on sentences I could help,” I say, holding my red marker at the ready.
She leaves my office, slump-shouldered and downtrodden.
Feeling like a failure at first, I eventually realize that I can’t solve every student’s
About the Author
Maureen Sherbondy’s poems have appeared in Calyx, European Judaism, The Oakland Review, Prelude, and other journals. Her poetry books include Dancing with Dali, Eulogy for an Imperfect Man, Beyond Fairy Tales, The Art of Departure, and six chapbooks. Lines in Opposition will be published by Unsolicited Press in 2022. She has also published a short story collection, The Slow Vanishing. Lucky Brilliant, her first novel, will be published in September. Maureen, who teaches at Alamance Community College, lives in Durham, North Carolina with her husband Barry Peters.