“Did I Miss Anything?” by Tom Wayman
Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
Did I Miss Anything?
Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here we sat with our hands folded on our desks in silence, for the full two hours Everything. I gave an exam worth 40 percent of the grade for this term and assigned some reading due today on which I’m about to hand out a quiz worth 50 percent Nothing. None of the content of this course has value or meaning Take as many days off as you like: any activities we undertake as a class I assure you will not matter either to you or me and are without purpose Everything. A few minutes after we began last time a shaft of light suddenly descended and an angel or other heavenly being appeared and revealed to us what each woman or man must do to attain divine wisdom in this life and the hereafter This is the last time the class will meet before we disperse to bring the good news to all people on earth. Nothing. When you are not present how could something significant occur? Everything. Contained in this classroom is a microcosm of human experience assembled for you to query and examine and ponder This is not the only place such an opportunity has been gathered but it was one place And you weren’t here
From Did I Miss Anything? Selected Poems 1973-1993,
Copyright 1993 Tom Wayman.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of Harbour Publishing. Copyright 1993 by Tom Wayman. For further permissions information, contact Harbour Publishing, P.O. Box 219, Madeira Park, BC V0N 2H0 (Canada), www.harbourpublishing.com.
About the Poet
Tom Wayman (1945 - ) is the author of 17 poetry collections, including High Speed through Shoaling Water (Harbour Publishing, 2007).
Learn more about Tom Wayman at Canadian Poetry Online.