I was a second-semester freshman, sitting in CORE 120, worried about our in-class assignment. Dr. Steven Moore had just told me and the other 70 students in the class we had 10 minutes to write a poem. The only other guideline: we had use the phrase “blue sweater”.
The 10 minutes expired all too quickly. I’d barely written poetry before, and had absolutely no idea what to write. I’d written three lines, and they weren’t strong by any standards. When the three professors started calling on volunteers to read our poems out loud to the entire class, my worry grew.
Each poem read aloud grew longer and more profound as three or four students read very thoughtful poems I can barely believe they wrote in just 10 minutes.
I knew others in the class were like me and had written little, nothing or something along the lines of a nursery rhyme. I decided to represent those of us who didn’t have the poetry-writing gene, and prepared to recite mine before the class.
I heard Dr. Moore call on a girl I didn’t know on the other side of the large classroom. I heard her open with, “This is a true story.” I heard virtually nothing else from her poem while I focused on mine, preparing for either a very good or very bad response.
She finished. Everyone clapped. Dr. Moore began looking for another volunteer. I hesitated, then raised my hand. He called on me, and my friend sitting to my right looked over, read the three lines I’d written, and brought her hand up for a facepalm. I started with, “This is a true story, too.” I didn’t know I was going to say that until I did, but I realized it would strengthen the surprise factor of my lack-of-a-poem to follow. Then I began the poem.
Disclaimer: this is almost definitely not the exact poem I wrote and read that day. The notebook paper I wrote it on has disappeared, so this is my best attempt at recreating the poem.
“This morning I looked in my closet
And I pulled out my blue sweater
But then I put it back.
Then, almost immediately, laughter. A lot of it.
I thought I was in the clear. But a few days later, a friend of mine in the class asked me if I had listened to the poem read before mine. I admitted no, I was preparing mine. She then told me that the poem read before mine was a true, sad story about her friends or family and my poem might have looked disrespectful toward it. She said the girl’s name was Haley (could be spelled Hailey, or Hayley).
So now I’d like to apologize to Haley, Hailey or Hayley if you’re reading this. No disrespect or offense was intended at all. I missed almost your entire poem and didn’t know what it dealt with. I was simply trying to help show all the students who were unable to come up with a good poem that they weren’t alone, and lighten the room up a bit.
And now, more than a year and a half later, I am so glad to get that off my chest.