Philosophy Test

First published in Here, There, and Everywhere: Redmond Association of Spokenword Anthology, Michael Dylan Welch, editor, Redmond, Washington: Redmond Association of Spokenword, 2013, page 110. Also anthologized in Journeys: An Anthology of International Haibun (Hyderabad, India: Nivasini Publishers, 2014), edited by Angelee Deodhar.

I forget her name now, though I think it started with a C. We both sat in the back row, she in the left corner, me in the middle. I forget the teacher’s name, too, but remember that the subject was Western philosophy.

        a robin’s song . . .

        she turns in her midterm

        just before me

The news ripples through the dorms after the weekend. Heading home on Friday night, she crossed the center line. She was by herself. They said it was instant.

        dorm fireplace—

        someone asks

        if God really exists

At class again on Monday, the teacher repeats the news. A few gasps. For those not on campus, it’s the first they’ve heard. The professor hands back all our midterms, tells us that she got a C. “Sorry if this is hard to read,” he says she wrote, “but my pen was running out of ink.”

        I turn to the last page

        to see my test score—

        the corner seat, empty

[In memory of Debbie Yeo, died 1 February 1985.]