"The Final Final"
I missed giving my final final exam. I slept through it. The alarm didn't sound, or I turned it off in my sleep. I'm buying a new clock. Maybe it's perfect. They wrote me such letters. I'll them all A's. But that moment will not come back, no matter how I call, howl for it to, weep. This morning will not come back this afternoon. But the letters I have from them are better than the finals they might have written, maybe not. This class really was the best I ever, and I regret. I regret. Though this way may be truly right, it hurts so missing the saying goodbye to each as they come up, my best, my last. But I did that last lecture class well enough, a week ago Thursday. That was good, I guess. And they wouldn't have written what they did if I had been there today. Unconsciously, I gave them my absence, as these eleven years my teacher has consciously given me his absence- presence. Whatever however he is with me now he's dead. Problem is is. While we're in these aging shapes to show up for class, bright eyes, bright ears. I missed the fucking final! Seems like so much else in my life, the waking late and not making the formal gathering, and this regret for sleeping through. I cannot believe I missed the final final. The predictable conclusion to my legend in the English Department. The secretaries loved it. I can believe it, and I won't say I'm sorry. I am sorry, like my mother used to call unreliable hired help. You can't count on him, he's just sorry. You never know if he'll show up. I'm so sorry I won't say I'm sorry, and actually it gives me a chance to give 40 A's, which out of some arrogant ungenerous grading attitude I would not have done, which now I do, with an iron whang of the Grades Only chute door in the back of the Academic Building. And an illegal pull of the Chapel bell. Do you reckon I'll sleep through my death, another pull, sleep through Resurrection Day, another, and have to do this whole jabbering career again, pull, or will I get to go on to some other plane where there's no such thing as dreamless sleep and discipline and drinking too much the night before and faulty clocks and forgetfulness and the frustration of saying anything in front of groups, and no such thing as regret and the satisfaction of a job well done, and no more goddamn ceremonial walk-through doors, and no way to miss the living moments, and no way to try to write them right. Or say there's nothing after now. Then, that lovely bunch of young people talking and laughing and writing me letters, forgiving me even, straggling out of that room made sacred by our presences and attention, were gone when I arrived at 10:45. You created quite a stir around here says someone on the hall bench. I bet. I heard them say you've used up your poetic license. This is how death might surprise, as the thing undone, irremediably missed-out-on. You round a corner and the backyard party with your friends is breaking up. Where have you been! Alone, asleep. If I lived with someone, I might have been jogged awake, reminded, but I still don't want to live with anyone. I'm unrepentently, sufficiently, some would say terribly alone. Look at me and be frightened of not pouring the last of the love and wakefulness you're given, which is every moment but moreso some than others. Emptying out is the point. In time, over time, be early.