compassion and academia.

like hopeful monks
we young students tread the hallowed halls
clutching armfuls of books
bright-eyed and comforted
by the embrace of so many theories

eyes adjusting to the darkness
of the cavernous library
as elders teach us
reprimanding us
for dropping the sacred texts
to embrace the pulsing life
of friendship and our lovers
of children and our own aching hearts

this is life they say
as our hands become ragged and torn
by the violence of turning pages
this is suffering they say
as our hearts become encased
by abstractions

and when it all becomes too much
when the young disciples perch precariously
on the rooftop of the ivory tower
no longer comforted by idle speeches
or the promise of tenure
preparing to leap
to feel the freedom of descent
in spite of the knowledge of death

so many teachers
having forgotten the delirious joy of life
having anchored themselves in ink and paper
cannot move to embrace the trembling shoulders
arms and hearts too-full of the fluttering pages

look closely
as the bodies tumble down below them
some teachers’ eyes still fill with tears
knowing, too
how close they once stood

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