Chapbook: More Than What You See-Art

“How hard is it to look up words?”
my first art professor asked the class
with a chuckle, complaining
about student emails.

I laughed with everyone else
hoping to hide the shame
and the tears that threatened.
She proceeded to explain
how some students in college can’t
spell or write
to save their lives
or can’t seem to be able
to use a dictionary.
I swallowed my tears
willing my gut to believe
that she wasn’t talking about me.
Old insecurities still whispered,
but you spell those words wrong too.

I realized I wasn’t breathing.
I breathed,
(She doesn’t know you.)
I thought.
But my insecurities said
don’t you remember…
the time you failed an assignment
because you thought the word
wasn’t in the dictionary?

(I just got the letters switched
around in my head.
It happens all the time)

She didn’t listen to your plea
and failed you anyway.

I shook those thoughts to the back
of my mind. (It doesn’t matter,
she isn’t talking about me
or my failed assignment
with the dictionary.)
I swallowed my tears dry.


(Stop it!
it’s not her, it’s me
thinking this way.)

But what she said
was burned into my memory
and, emails? I never sent her any.

Silvaan Ruth

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