Writing Lesson, Janet McCann

(For Lloyd, my long-ago teacher)

Nearly sixty years ago
you wrote in the margins of my papers
with peacock-blue ink, not that easy
to get then. Nice, you wrote, and clever.
I’ll remember this. Did you? I wonder.
Are you sure you mean this? you wrote once.

I’d written that the morays of my family
constrained my actions. A quick look
at Webster—no Google then—informed me.

I changed morays to snakes. My family snakes
prevented self-fulfillment. It was 1960
and I was hemmed in by the family
snakes. The family didn’t really mean
to put them there; still, there they were,
guarding my virginity, making me major
in English. Sixty years down the road
they still circle my ankles. They won’t let me
join the nudist camp for seniors, or even
play the horses. The family snakes.

© Janet McCann

Journals publishing Janet McCann’s include KANSAS QUARTERLY, PARNASSUS, NIMROD, SOU’WESTER, AMERICA,  CHRISTIAN CENTURY, CHRISTIANITY AND LITERATURE, NEW YORK QUARTERLY, TENDRIL, and others. A 1989 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship winner, she taught at Texas A & M University from 1969-2016, is now Professor Emerita. She has co-edited anthologies with David Craig, ODD ANGLES OF HEAVEN (Shaw, 1994), PLACE OF PASSAGE (Story Line, 2000), and POEMS OF FRANCIS AND CLARE (St. Anthony Messenger, 2004). Most recent poetry collection: THE CRONE AT THE CASINO (Lamar University Press,  2014).

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